The Royals were comfortable winners over Crystal Palace, thanks to two penalties and a late goal from Jimmy Kebe. Shane Long was superb throughout, scoring one and winning both of the spot kicks, and life without Gylfi Sigurdsson got off to a good start against a poor Palace side.
After the fine win over Leicester, Brian McDermott only had one decision to make in his team line up after Andy Griffin failed a late fitness test and Brynjar Gunnarsson was declared fit. That was who would step in and replace Sigurdsson, and it was new boy Ian Harte which meant a reshuffle with Shaun Cummings moving to right back, Gunnarsson to midfield and Brian Howard in the Sig role. Harte slotted into his favoured left back slot.
The first half was a rather forgettable affair in truth, Matt Mills tussles with James Vaughan about as good as it got with both booked, although Vaughan`s was for a needless foul on Adam Federici. Mills went the closest to scoring when his header hit the bar and Howard could not convert the rebound.
The opening goal though arrived just before the interval and it was all about Shane Long. He won a penalty following a foul from Paddy McCarthy and converted it with ease, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Before the break the impressive Jem Karacan went within inches of doubling the lead with a wonderful long range effort and at the other end Federici, who had little to do for the majority of the first period, was alert to keep out an Andy Dorman effort with a fantastic save.
Pablo Counago came on for the visitors at the break and he had almost scored within minutes of his arrival but couldn`t find the finishing touch to a Vaughan cross. We started to dominate the game though and had a shout for another penalty when Howard`s cross appeared to be handled but we had to make do with a corner.
The second goal arrived soon after and it was another spot kick. Karacan played an intricate ball through to Long who was fouled as he was about to shoot. He unselfishly gave up the responsibility, and Ian Harte converted a debut goal with a fine finish into the bottom corner.
We were much the better side, Cummings got forward well and tested Julian Speroni in the Palace goal, Kebe headed straight at the keeper and Gunnarsson shot miles over as we created chance after chance.
Howard wasted a great chance to score when he shot wide when totally unmarked and then got himself booked for a dive, and it was left to Kebe to put the gloss on a fine win with a 90th minute goal.
-Jem Karacan. Where did that performance come from?! Often the midfielder to sit deep and break up play but not today, he was superb and the heartbeat of the team. Almost scored twice as well.
-Despite a slow start, Shaun Cummings grew in confidence and put in an assured display at right back.
-Ian Harte looks like an excellent signing, passing was excellent and kept his nerve to score on his debut from the spot.
-Are we getting too carried away with a win over a poor Palace side? I hope not.