Championship
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Reading 0-1 Middlesbrough: Friend grabs late winner for Boro

George Friend
George Friend struck for the first time since the opening day of the season

George Friend moved Middlesbrough up to fourth in the Championship as his goal earned them an unconvincing win at struggling Reading.

Jonny Howson combined with Paddy McNair, who teed up Friend to slam home late on and give manager Tony Pulis his first league win in five matches.

It was harsh on the Royals, who had carried the greater threat for much of a quiet game.

Boro goalkeeper Darren Randolph denied Sam Baldock with an outstretched leg and pushed Omar Richards' shot around the post as Reading remained winless in seven matches.

It is a run they will hope to improve following the appointment of Jose Gomes as their new manager following the game.

Middlesbrough's stingy defence are the tightest in the Championship, with just 16 goals conceded in 23 matches, but they had been unusually generous of late, shipping six of that total in the three previous league games.

But they were back on song at the Madejski Stadium as Aden Flint made a terrific block to stop Leandro Bacuna firing the hosts ahead shortly before Friend struck against the run of play.

Friend, who scored for the first time in four-and-a-half months, almost made it two in 10 minutes when he hit the bar, but one goal ultimately proved enough.

Middlesbrough move up two places to fourth and within six points of the automatic promotion places, while Reading stay 21st, out of the bottom three on goal difference only.

Reading caretaker boss Scott Marshall:

"I believe that there is something going on here. I've really enjoyed the experience. I've really enjoyed getting to know the players as a group.

"In the game, we had a couple of really good chances. It was always going to be important to get the first goal as Boro have got a great defensive record.

"We dominated the game for large periods and we had some good moments, especially in the second half.

"I would have loved us to have got in front. It would have been an entirely different game."

Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis:

"When things are going well, everyone gets too excited. When things aren't going well, everyone gets down in the dumps.

"Week in, week out, it's tough and it's hard. But we've got an honest group.

"We need to add to it because there's a lack of real pace and power that we need to find.

"If we can do that, then we'll push on and we'll be fine. If we don't, then every game is going to be a tough one."

Line-ups

Reading

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 31Jaakkola
  • 3Yiadom
  • 47Osho
  • 24BlackettBooked at 90mins
  • 27RichardsSubstituted forBödvarssonat 85'minutes
  • 35RinomhotaBooked at 73mins
  • 7Bacuna
  • 19SimsSubstituted forMcClearyat 82'minutes
  • 43LoaderSubstituted forSwiftat 70'minutes
  • 17Barrow
  • 9Baldock

Substitutes

  • 1Mannone
  • 4O'Shea
  • 10Swift
  • 12McCleary
  • 16Edwards
  • 23Bödvarsson
  • 29McNulty

Middlesbrough

Formation 5-4-1

  • 23Randolph
  • 5ShottonSubstituted forMcNairat 38'minutes
  • 4Ayala
  • 24Flint
  • 20Fry
  • 3Friend
  • 16Howson
  • 37BesicBooked at 41minsSubstituted forWingat 66'minutes
  • 8Clayton
  • 22SavilleBooked at 79mins
  • 9AssombalongaSubstituted forHugillat 67'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Batth
  • 10Braithwaite
  • 11Hugill
  • 17McNair
  • 26Wing
  • 28Tavernier
  • 31Lonergan
Referee:
Steve Martin
Attendance:
14,943

Match Stats

Home TeamReadingAway TeamMiddlesbrough
Possession
Home57%
Away43%
Shots
Home12
Away18
Shots on Target
Home4
Away6
Corners
Home9
Away8
Fouls
Home12
Away15

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Reading 0, Middlesbrough 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Reading 0, Middlesbrough 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Tyler Blackett (Reading) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is just a bit too high. Assisted by Jón Dadi Bödvarsson following a corner.

  4. Post update

    Attempt missed. Gabriel Osho (Reading) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Andy Yiadom with a headed pass following a corner.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Andy Yiadom (Reading) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Andy Rinomhota.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Reading. Conceded by George Friend.

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Leandro Bacuna (Reading) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Modou Barrow.

  8. Post update

    Andy Yiadom (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Jonny Howson (Middlesbrough).

  10. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  11. Booking

    Tyler Blackett (Reading) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  12. Post update

    Delay in match Dael Fry (Middlesbrough) because of an injury.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Tyler Blackett (Reading).

  14. Post update

    Jordan Hugill (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  15. Post update

    Corner, Reading. Conceded by Aden Flint.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Sam Baldock (Reading).

  17. Post update

    George Friend (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Garath McCleary (Reading) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by John Swift.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right following a corner.

  20. Post update

    George Friend (Middlesbrough) hits the bar with a left footed shot from very close range following a corner.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norwich23145441261547
2Leeds22136336181845
3West Brom23126550311942
4Middlesbrough2310942516939
5Derby2311663225739
6Sheff Utd2311573627938
7Nottm Forest2381143223935
8Birmingham2381053527834
9Stoke2381053027334
10QPR2310492832-434
11Aston Villa228954334933
12Swansea239592927232
13Bristol City238782827131
14Blackburn2371062934-531
15Preston237793538-328
16Hull2376102632-627
17Sheff Wed2376102940-1127
18Brentford2367103434025
19Wigan2374122333-1025
20Rotherham2341092237-1522
21Reading2347122736-919
22Millwall2347122839-1119
23Bolton2346131531-1618
24Ipswich2329121938-1915
View full Championship table

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