Premier League: Reading 0 Southampton 2
By Football News
Reading remain anchored to the foot of the Premier League table after losing 2-0 to fellow top-flight new boys Southampton on Saturday.
Jay Rodriguez's opportunistic strike gave the Saints a first-half lead, as Adam Lallana struck after the interval to condemn a dejected-looking Royals side that are now seven points from safety having played a game more than their relegation rivals.
In a clash distinguished by the subplot of ex-Saints manager Nigel Adkins' first game against the club he recently led to back-to-back promotions, it was Southampton counterpart Mauricio Pochettino who had the final say, claiming a first away win at the helm of the club to lead them to 11th on the table, seven points clear of the bottom three with six games left to play.
After a cagey start punctuated solely by Sean Morrison's powerful header over Artur Boruc's bar, the Saints gradually began to exert their influence, with Gaston Ramirez firing over from 20 yards before nearly prising open the home side's back four with a cute back-heeled pass.
However, a moment of poor Southampton defending presented Adam Le Fondre with a golden opportunity to put Reading one up, but after the ball dropped to him just outside the six-yard box, he could only fire wastefully over with his left foot.
That incident proved the catalyst for a flurry of Reading attacking impetus and in quick succession Hal Robson-Kanu was denied a penalty after going down under a Jos Hooiveld challenge and Boruc smartly kept out Adrian Marippa's goal-bound header.
The home side were made to rue their inability to capitalise on their pressure, as a rogue Saints foray forward ended with Rodriguez chasing down Rickie Lambert's through-ball and bundling past Adam Federici's soft challenge to put the visitors ahead.
The goal signalled Southampton's ascendancy and before the interval they twice went close again, as Rodriguez rattled the bar and Ramirez skewed wide after Federici palmed the goalscorer's one-on-one effort straight into the path of the Uruguayan.
Southampton periodically threatened to extend their lead after the break yet Steven Davis spurned a fine opportunity after he was unable to match the quality of Lambert's exquisite through-ball, firing straight at Federici.
As the match seemed destined to run away from Reading, Rodriguez fizzed a ball across the box that narrowly evaded Lambert's late run into the six-yard area, while Morgan Schneiderlin miscued from a similar scenario from the opposite side.
A crucial Morrison interception thwarted Rodriguez's attempts to bare down on goal, though the Reading centre-half was unable to prevent Lallana doubling Southampton's lead in the 72nd minute, as the substitute strode on to Rodriguez's pass to coolly slot past Federici.
An unlikely response from the home side was quick to materialise with the Majedski faithful incredulous that the referee's assistant failed to award Reading a goal after Boruc appeared to cross his own goal-line after collecting Le Fondre's flicked header.
Davis was again denied by Morrison and Guly do Prado missed a prime chance to make it 3-0 in injury time as the home side's status as a Premier League outfit took another step toward extinction.