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22 September 2012
• The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
Referee: C. Foy
• Attendance: 23854
West Bromwich Albion
R. Lukaku 71'
It took until past the 70 minute mark for Romelu Lukaku to break through Reading's stern defence, after James Morrison went close in either half, but West Brom successfully maintained their 100% home record of three victories. Baggies manager Steve Clarke will be particularly pleased with how his shift to 4-4-2 paid almost immediate dividends as midfield arrival Graham Dorrans' chipped pass was headed into the Belgian's path by attacking substitute Shane Long. In contrast, Reading manager Brian McDermott will be concerned at how easily his attack was stifled, with strikers Adam Le Fondre and Pavel Pogrebnyak short of supply and wingers Garath McCleary and Jobi McAnuff contained. The Royals are now bottom of the table with just one point from four matches, and it could be a long season ahead for last season's Championship winners.
90' + 4'
Full Time at the Hawthorns, finishing 1-0 to West Brom thanks to Romelu Lukaku, as Reading head home having lost their last three Premier League matches.
90' + 4'
McCleary luckily wins a throw-in after he appeared to handle the ball on the right flank, but the Royals are unable to capitalise.
90' + 1'
West Brom neatly exchange passes in the centre of the pitch before attempting to find a forward, rather than simply running the clock down. Graham Dorrans similarly crosses for McCarthy to launch another attack. Reading however look unlikely to break through, with West Brom retaining control in midfield.
Markus Rosenberg shoots from distance into the arms of keeper Alex McCarthy.
Yellow Card Claudio Yacob
Claudio Yacob receives the first yellow card as he jumps in with excessive force to retrieve the ball following a heavy touch in the middle of the park.
Robson-Kanu slips as he attempts to control a ball flicked on inside the box after good work by McAnuff.
Reading commit more players forward and as Alex Pearce nervily tries to hold off Shane Long after receiving the ball in his own half, he wins a free kick after the Irish forward is judged to have committed a foul.
Reading are growing more direct in attempting to force an equaliser as the match draws to a close attacking down the wings or through balls over the top to Noel Hunt and Adam Le Fondre, but West Brom are holding firm and look likely to hold out for the win.
Hal Robson-Kanu heads onto the top of the net with a looping header after beating Billy Jones at the back post to McCleary's left-footed cross from the right wing.
Winger Hal Robson-Kanu appears in place of right back Chris Gunter as Reading seek an equaliser with just over ten minutes remaining.
McAnuff again gets past Jones at right back but his left-footed cross is headed clear by Ridgewell at the back post.
Lukaku is taken off to the applause of the home fans as Swedish international Markus Rosenberg appears in his place in a like-for-like change.
Shorey aims a freekick from the right flank towards centre backs Pearce and Gorkss, but Foster catches before launching the ball to Lukaku on the right flank. The Belgian tries to find Long with his weaker right foot but his cross is intercepted.
Shane Long moves into the right channel to receive the ball and reaches the by-line, attempting to cross for Lukaku but the Reading defender clears.
Assist Shane Long
Goal Romelu Lukaku
Goal Romelu Lukaku! Graham Dorrans chips a pass towards Shane Long who beats his marker in the air, heading the ball back to the Belgian international who shoots powerfully with his left foot through a crowd of players past keeper Alex McCarthy.
Steve Clarke makes another straight swap bringing on one attacking midfielder for another in adding Graham Dorrans in place of Zoltan Gera.
The big target man Pavel Pogrebnyak is taken off for Noel Hunt as Brian McDermott makes a straight swap in search of fresh legs in attack.
West Brom take off playmaker James Morrison to add another striker in Shane Long, who faces his former club at which he played for six season.
Lukaku overpowers Chris Gunter as he attempts to receive a long ball on the counter down the left flank, and runs into the box looking to get on the end of his heavy touch, but keeper Alex McCarthy was quick off his line and gets to the ball first, avoiding what looked like a potential penalty.
Nicky Shorey aims for the top right corner with his left foot, but his effort drifts wide.
Danny Guthrie picks up on Jonas Olsson's weak header out and runs at the defence, drawing a freekick from Claudio Yacob.
West Brom win a corner and Lukaku attempts an acrobatic shot but the ball runs through for Reading to regain possession.
McAnuff receives the ball on the left wing and evades challenges from two players as he advances into the box, before falling under a challenge from Billy Jones. He appeals for a penalty but appears to receive a talking to from the referee instead after he went down easily.
James Morrison forces a brilliant save from keeper Alex McCarthy after volleying towards the bottom left corner after Alex Pearce headed clear Chris Brunt's cross. The keeper is forced to fling himself across goal at full stretch to reach the 30-yard effort.
The ball finds its way back to Pogrebnyak in the area and the striker blasts over with his left foot from a tight angle.
Pogrebnyak wins a freekick from Ridgewell on the left flank, perhaps going down too easily, but the defence are able to repel the danger.
Morrison picks up the ball on the left flank on the counter and cuts inside. He delays too long before passing to Lukaku inside the left channel and the forward is offside.
McAuley stops Adam Le Fondre with a high challenge as the striker rushes past him looking to control a flick-on from Pogrebnyak, but no free-kick is given.
Morrison picks up the ball from the defence and hits an early ball into the channel for Lukaku, but the attack is repelled.
McAnuff cuts inside from the left flank and launches a cross into the path of Adam Le Fondre who forces Ben Foster to punch clear. The keeper is hurt by his fall from the challenge but gets back up.
West Brom start the half in a strong fashion, building an impressive move under heavy pressure from Reading, eventually working a cross from the left flank into Lukaku.
Reading get the second half underway at the Hawthorns.
Paul Macdonald at the Hawthorns: "Half-time at the Hawthorns and West Brom have been much the better side. James Morrison has had the best openings, forcing Alex McCarthy into the only genuine save of the first half. Jonas Olsson headed against the crossbar on the stroke of the interval from a Chris Brunt corner and, in truth, the hosts probably deserve to be in front."
Steve Clarke's side have shown flashes of inspiration, through James Morrison in particular who had one excellent shot well saved by Alex McCarthy and skewed another wide after a good exchange with Zoltan Gera, but have been unable to break through Reading's solid two banks of four in front of goal. The Royals in turn have so far not often managed to get the ball forward for forward pair Adam le Fondre and Pavel Pogrebnyak, but wingers Garath McCleary and Jobi McAnuff have impressed on occasion. The home crowd could start to get frustrated with the Baggies inability to make headway, but Jonas Olsson's late header against the bar demonstrated their attacking potential on the eve of half time, and the side could well get rewards for a more attacking approach after half time.
45' + 1'
It's half Time at the Hawthorns, as Lukaku picks up a knock to the face in a challenge with Alex Pearce in the final minute of the half.
Lukaku has an excellent chance on the counter to receive a through ball from the right wing, but his touch is heavy and right back Chris Gunter puts the ball out for a corner. Chris Brunt's accurate delivery reaches Jonas Olsson, who heads against the post after beating Kaspars Gorkss in the air.
McCleary gets past his first opponent on the right flank but cannot evade his second as West Brom regain possession.
Nicky Shorey places an accurate cross to the back post, but centre back Alex Pearce heads over.
Guthrie finds McAnuff on the left flank and the winger skilfully darts inside Gera who can only bring him down for a free kick.
West Brom win a freekick on the right flank but the Reading defence clears through Gorkss. The Baggies attack again but are unable to break through.
Reading launch another attack and win a freekick for Guthrie to take, but the midfielder blasts well wide.
West Brom win the ball after confusion between Gorkss and Guthrie and have the opportunity to counter through Morrison, but his chipped cross over the defence to the left side of the box is too high for Lukaku who is forced backwards.
Reading have thwarted a succession of West Brom attacks with two disciplined lines of four in their own half being quick to make interceptions where possible.
Ben Foster mishits his goal kick and Reading grow in confidence, McAnuff unsuccessfully attempting to take on Jones on the left flank once more.
McAnuff takes on Jones on the right edge of the box and goes down, appealing for a penalty, but a goal kick is given.
Left back Nicky Shorey finds Pogrebnyak with a long ball, and the Russian knocks the ball down to Le Fondre who shoots well over. That final third combination could be dangerous but lacked quality on that occasion.
Lukaku drifts wide again to receive the ball, this time towards the left channel, and hits a cross in which is blocked for a corner. Reading centre midfielder Mikele Leigertwood clears the corner when it is taken.
Gera crosses from deep towards the back post, but Chris Gunter is well positioned and heads away.
James Morrison begins a delightful exchange on the right edge of the box with Zoltan Gera, who came in from the right flank to receive the ball, and advances into the box to receive the ball again from the Hungarian but drags his shot horribly wide.
West Brom's Morrison finds Lukaku on the edge of the box, who feeds the advancing Ridgewell on the left by-line. Ridgewell attempts to cross and wins a corner, which is cleared by the Reading defence on the first attempt.
Reading's Danny Guthrie takes a freekick from the right flank that is headed out by West Brom centre back Gareth McAuley. The Royals retain the ball but are pushed back to their own half.
As Reading attempt to get the ball wide and feed the ball to their two strikers, West Brom are primed for the counter and Reading centre backs Gorkss and Alex Pearce each have to cut out quick passes to Lukaku in quick succession.
Yacob wins the ball from Reading's Pavel Pogrebnyak in the centre of the park but Reading regain possession and exchange passes. The Royals are outnumbered in centre midfield however, and struggle to break through or find forwards Le Fondre and Pogrebnyak.
West Brom launch a quick attack through Lukaku and pour forward in support of the lone striker. Yacob demonstrates good technique in orchestrating possession when the team are repelled by the Reading defence.
Reading centre back Kaspars Gorkss advances forward and ambitiously attempts a shot from well outside the box, which goes out for a goal kick.
Reading attempt to build a move from the back but it breaks down as McAnuff miscontrols the ball for a throw-in. West Brom return the favour when a long pass to left back Ridgewell goes astray.
Lukaku drifts out to the right channel and he works the ball back onto his stronger left foot before chipping a cross to the back post, which keeper McCarthy punches clear.
Chris Brunt attempts to slide a pass through to Lukaku on the counter attack but the Belgian striker is unable to control the effort.
Reading's Jobi McAnuff hits a cross from the left wing and his right wing counterpart Garath McCleary gets to it, knocking it up in the air before spectacularly attempting a bicycle kick as it comes down. His effort is well struck but saved comfortably by Ben Foster.
West Brom build up another promising attack, with Lukaku and Morrison combining on the edge of the box. The Baggies attacking midfielders Chris Brunt and Zoltan Gera are coming inside to invite passes from deep midfielders Claudio Yacob and Mulumbu, with the full backs Liam Ridgewell and Billy Jones advancing well forward. It looks like over the course of the afternoon they could prove effective against the Royals.
James Morrison picks up the ball in between the lines and the Reading defence back off. Morrison lines up a shot and fires accurately towards the bottom left corner, but McCarthy makes a good save getting down low to his right side to tip the effort out for a corner. It looked like it could go in.
Chris Brunt takes the corner and it is cleared, but the ball finds its way back to Lukaku on the right edge of the box and he powers past his markers to flash a dangerous-looking ball across the box, which is cleared.
West Brom exchange passes in the centre of midfield before Youssouf Mulumbu launches a floated pass to advancing right back Billy Jones, but Nicky Shorey puts tha ball out for a corner.
Jobi McAnuff takes an early throw in to Adam Le Fondre and receives the ball back again on before cutting inside from the left flank past Zoltan Gera, before floating a cross that curls out for a goal kick.
Reading combine down the right flank, whipping in two crosses which are cleared comfortably.
Romelu Lukaku, in his first start for the Baggies, looks to flick on a long ball to his onrunning teammate, drawing a cheer from the crowd.
West Brom get the game underway at the Hawthorns!
Reading have conceded eight goals in their three matches so far, collecting just one point on the opening day of the season, and will face a tough task against West Brom, who have yet to concede a goal in their two victories so far at the Hawthorns.
Brian McDermott opts for two strikers in attack and brings in Adam Le Fondre to partner Pavel Pogrebnyak, while midfielder Jem Karacan drops to the bench. Nicky Shorey takes the place of Ian Harte at left back, facing his old club who released him at the end of last season.
Zoltan Gera returns for West Brom and takes up one of the attacking midfield positions in place of the suspended Peter Odemwingie. Steve Clarke also opts for Romelu Lukaku in the lone striker role previously occupied by Shane Long, who takes up a place on the bench against his old club. Billy Jones starts at right back with Steven Reid yet to recover from injury.
Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Gorkss, Pearce, Shorey; McCleary, Guthrie, Leigertwood, McAnuff; Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre. Subs: Taylor, Karacan, Mariappa, Hunt, Church, Robson-Kanu, Cummings.
West Brom: Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob, Brunt, Morrison, Gera; Lukaku. Subs: Myhill, Rosenberg, Long, Dorrans, Jara Reyes, Dawson, Fortune.
Hello and welcome to Goal.com's live coverage of that match at The Hawthorns as West Brom take on Reading. I'm @arthurvirgo here to talk through the events.
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