Reading moved back into the Championship play-off places following a comfortable 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at the Madejski Stadium.
Adam Le Fondre and an own goal from George Friend set the Royals on their way to a first win on their own turf since January.
The victory, only a second in seven matches, puts Nigel Adkins’ side in pole position to secure that fourth and final play-off spot, with only two games of the regular season remaining.
The hosts won the contest inside the opening fifteen minutes.
Le Fondre bundled the ball home following Garath McCleary’s knockdown from a deep Jordan Obita cross after just nine minutes, before the latter’s teasing delivery from the right five minutes later resulted in the Boro defender Friend steering the ball into the corner of his own net.
Aitor Karanka’s side, evidently playing for nothing based on this performance, began to steady the ship having fallen behind early on, but when Danny Graham fired over with only ‘keeper Alex McCarthy to beat, you sensed it wasn’t going to be their day. Emmanuel Ledesma was also looking bright in the visitors’ midfield, but McCarthy comfortably dealt with everything that came his way.
In truth, it could have been a lot worse for those hardy 600 Boro fans who admirably made the long journey down from Teeside. Le Fondre headed against the crossbar from McCleary’s cross, before substitute Pavel Pogrebnyak forced a decent save out of Dimi Konstantopoulos after a mazy run through the visitors’ defence, which saw many Boro defenders finish on their backsides.
All in all, it was a solid performance from the Royals, who were in control for large periods of the game. Manager Adkins is right in saying that ‘destiny is in our hands’, but you sense only two wins from their last two games against Doncaster Rovers and Premier League-bound Burnley would secure a top six finish.
Karanka’s Boro are sitting comfortably in mid-table, although the Spaniard will have to try and raise his troops for the final two games of the season, which could ultimately have a significant bearing on the bottom end of the division. They host Barnsley at the Riverside on Saturday before a trip down south to likely-be-relegated Yeovil Town on the final day of the season.
Reading, however, will be hoping that their season doesn’t conclude on May 3rd.