Date: 3rd March 2013 at 3:19pm
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Reading were well and truly humbled by a rampant Everton side at Goodison on Saturday afternoon, losing by three goals to one and to leave them firmly in the relegation mix.

Royals boss Brian McDermott opted to make changes to the side that lost to Wigan last week, two enforced and one tactical, with Le Fondre, Hunt and Stuart Taylor coming for the dropped Karacan, injured Federici and suspended Pogrebnyak. Ad you would expect, the home side dominated the early play in Merseyside, but the Royals were a constant threat on the break.

Jimmy Kebe proved this threat in the first ten minutes, as he stole the ball of Osman in Reading’s half and drove through the Everton midfield, but his 25-yard effort dragged wide of Mucha’s goal. The Royals certainly didn’t make an embarrassment of themselves in the opening exchanges as they did against Wigan last Saturday, with Ian Harte’s free kick almost causing a problem for Mucha.

McDermott’s men continued to press and came within inches of taking a surprise lead, as the Toffee’s failed to clear a corner and it fell to the prized feet of Adam Le Fondre, but hammered his first time effort against the crossbar. The hosts responded to this warning and had a great chance themselves, as Jelavic broke the Royals offside trap but could not force his effort past debutant Stuart Taylor, who stood firm.

The former Manchester City keeper was playing his first game for Reading and his first game in the Premier League since 2008, but was not doing himself a discredit. Kevin Mirallas was next to try his luck, but his effort from the edge of the box was clawed away well by Taylor. The Royals then had a half-chance of their own, but Alex Pearce couldn’t keep his volley towards goal down, after Ian Harte’s dangerous set-piece delivery.

Everton pressed for that all important goal just before the half time interval, they earned their just rewards. The returning Fellaini started the move in midfield, working the ball out to Seamus Coleman on the right, who outran Jobi McAnuff to the byline and his deep cross was perfect for the Belgian to nod home. Despite holding off the home side so well, it was a blow for the Royals to be a goal down at the break.

It was a decent start to the second period by the away side, as Le Fondre almost managed to latch onto Hunt’s flick on, but Mucha smothered the danger bravely. However, the home side started to get into top gear as the half progressed. Jelavic had another great chance after the ball fell kindly to him in the box, but his effort was tame and comfortable for Taylor to beat away.

The gradual pressure took its toll and the second was scored with a piece of sheer brilliance from Steven Pienaar. The South African received the ball around halfway and drove, turning Ian Harte inside out before unleashing an unstoppable effort from the edge of the area. David Moyes’ side were threatening to run riot, as Mirallas’ low enticing ball across the box couldn’t be finished off by one of his team mates.

Reading thought they had a penalty shout, as Le Fondre’s clipped ball in appeared to hit the hand of Sylvain Distin, but Anthony Taylor did not see any wrong doing. McDermott would have felt aggrieved the decision was not given, even more so as Everton added a third goal to their tally. Pienaar turned provider, as his pass cancelled out the Royals backline, as the impressive Kevin Mirallas slotted home calmly by Taylor.

Captain Jobi McAnuff tried to reduce the deficit with a curling effort, but goalkeeper Mucha was equal to his shot. Mirallas tried his luck again, but Taylor got down well to deny the Belgian. Reading did earn a minor consolation from Goodison Park, as they dragged one back thanks to a good header from Hal Robson-Kanu, supplied by Harte’s cross on the left, but it left them too much to do too late.

Ian Harte had to hack a late Anichebe effort off of the line, before the encounter was completed, with Everton clear and deserved winners in Merseyside. It was Reading’s third consecutive defeat in the league, but were helped by Wigan and Southampton picking up no points and Villa still to play champions Manchester City tomorrow night. Next week’s game with Paul Lambert’s side will define our season.

Everton: Mucha, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Mirallas, Gibson, Osman, Fellaini, Pienaar, Jelavic
Subs: Springthorpe, Heitinga, Oviedo, Naismith, Hitzlsperger, Neville, Anichebe

Reading: Taylor, Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, Kebe, Akpan, Leigertwood, Kebe, Hunt, Le Fondre
Subs: Henly, Gunter, Morrison, McCleary, Karacan, Robson-Kanu, Blackman