Reading staged a remarkable comeback, scoring three times in the last 10 minutes to beat West Bromwich Albion 3-2 and move off the bottom of the Premier Legaue table.
The visitors had looked in complete control thanks to a brace from the excellent Romelu Lukaku. But a Jimmy Kebe header gave the home side hope with eight minutes remaining before an Adam Le Fondre penalty and Pavel Pogrebnyak goal secured the unlikeliest of comebacks.
Victory for Brian McDermott’s side moves them two points clear of bottom side QPR after securing 10 points from their last five games but West Brom stay seventh after a recent slump in form.
An injury-ravaged West Brom were missing key defenders Steven Reid and Goran Popov and forwards Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long, playing Lukaku on his own up front.
It took a while for the new Baggies line-up to settle and it was Reading who bossed the first quarter of an hour. Kebe found himself clean through just three minutes in but with the shooting angle a tight one, he opted not to take on Ben Foster and the chance was lost.
Ten minutes later Kebe turned provider, whipping in a dangerous cross towards Pogrebnyak only for Gareth McAuley to save the day with an excellent defensive header.
But that was as good as it would get for Reading in the first half as the visitors began to create holes in the Reading midfield with new signing Daniel Carrico often leaving his defence exposed. George Thorne set up James Morrison with an excellent cut back and Adam Federici had to be at his best to keep out the shot.
A minute later and West Brom were ahead. Morrison turned provider to set up Lukaku and he simply couldn’t miss from a yard out, sidefooting his eighth of the season and second against Reading. His tail up, Lukaku could have won West Brom a penalty on the half hour mark but decided to stay on his feet with Alex Pearce all over the back of him and their legs tangling.
Reading finished the half strongly, Kebe again spurning a good chance when put through on goal, a heavy first touch allowing the Baggies defence to regroup. And the visitors were lucky to end the half with eleven men still on the pitch. Billy Jones, already booked for a foul on Jobi McAnuff, again challenged the reading skipper with a far more bookable challenge but referee Kevin Friend waved away the protests.
West Brom were nearly two to the good immediately after the re-start, Lukaku again stealing in behind the Reading defence only for Adrian Mariappa to block his shot. But Reading were starting to carve out more chances of their own, substitute Garath McCleary saw his shot blocked on the line by Jones.
Still the visitors still looked the more likely and it Lukaku should have put them out of sight, flashing a header off the far post from Morrison’s cross before thundering a shot back off the underside of the bar, again from the impressive Morrison’s cut back.
Moments after seeing his shot rebound off the bar, Lukaku was wheeling away in celebration. Morrison picked up the ball on the half way line before passing to the Belgian, who cut inside Mariappa before rifling past Federici.
It looked to be the nail in the Reading coffin and there seemed no way back for McDermott’s side. But West Brom’s contention to sit back and invite pressure in the last ten minutes proved their undoing. McCleary was afforded far too much space on the left and his cross was gratefully headed home by Kebe to give Reading a glimmer.
And when Jonas Olsson needlessly brought down Kebe on the edge of the box with four minutes of normal time remaining, Reading had their chance. Up stepped substitute Adam Le Fondre to send Foster the wrong way to bring the scores level and with time up on the clock, Pogrebnyak latched onto Pearce’s header to send the home crowd into raptures.
MAN OF THE MATCH
James Morrison – West Brom. Untouchable for long spells in the middle of the park. Set up Lukaku on numerous occasions, twice leading to goals and can count himself unfortunate to be on the losing side.
Reading: Federici 6; Gunter 6, Harte 5, Mariappa 6, Pearce 6; Carrico 5, Karacan 5, Kebe 8, McAnuff 7 (c); Guthrie 6, Pogrebnyak 7. SUBS: McCleary 7, Le Fondre 7.
West Brom: Foster 6; Jones 5, McAuley 6, Olsson 6, Ridgewell 6; Thorne 6, Brunt 6; Dorrans 5, Morrison 8, Thomas 6; Lukaku 8. SUBS: Rosenberg 6