Date: 28th February 2010 at 6:15pm
Written by:

Wednesday’s bid for Championship survival took its hardest knock yet under boss Alan Irvine as relegation rivals Reading hit five by the Owls at the Madjeski Stadium at the weekend.

Billed as the proverbial ‘six pointer’ before, the Royals strolled to a comfortable success to sink Wednesday into the relegation zone and leave them with a mountain to climb to avoid the drop into League 1 this season.

Jimmy Kebe opened the scoring for the hosts before Grzegorz Rasiak hit a brace, Simon Church got on the scoresheet and Kebe also grabbed his double as the hosts made light work of the Owls.

Wednesday made two changes to the side that lost against Ipswich Town last time out as Eddie Nolan made his debut at right-back, replacing Frank Simek, while fellow loanee Tom Soares started in place of Etienne Esajas.

There was also a return for Tommy Miller into the Owls squad, but he wasn’t fit enough to be thrown straight back into the starting line-up.

Reading came into the game on a high following their midweek FA Cup triumph at West Brom.

The 90 minutes plus extra-time clash in the Midlands could have worked in Wednesday’s favour, but Reading’s victory saw them enter the huge league clash high on confidence and they brought their momentum from The Hawthorns back to the Madjeski Stadium.

Rasiak came close to opening the scoring for the pumped-up hosts when he glanced a header just wide of Lee Grant’s goal, before Darren Potter fired the first effort for the visitors which gave Adam Federici little problem.

Chances were coming at both ends in a high-tempo start but it was Reading who had the more clear cut opportunities in front of goal.

Michael Gray forced Federici into another save but it was Grant who was the busier of the two goalkeepers.

Twice he had to be on guard to deny former Derby County and Southampton hitman Rasiak, while Mark Beevers produced a superb last-ditch tackle to deny the tricky Church when through on goal.

Reading’s problems earlier in the season were not being able to put the ball in the back of the net, despite their often impressive build-up and possession play.

It looked like it could be more of the same as the Owls defence frustrated the Reading attack early on, but all that was soon to change as the hosts found the breakthrough they were craving.

It came with a touch of luck, too, but it was what they deserved on the balance of first-half play.

Kebe was given too much space at the edge of the area and he unleashed an effort which took a deflection from Richard Hinds and found its way into the back of the net just three minutes before half-time.

It was a blow to Wednesday so close to the interval and a confidence-booster for Reading.

And it got worse in first-half added time as the Royals swooped into a 2-0 lead.

Church’s shot struck Hinds but fell perfectly for Rasiak to drill home his effort and double Reading’s lead – leaving Wednesday with a mountain to climb to find a way back into the game.

Half-Time: Reading 1-0 Wednesday

Conceding a third wasn’t an option for Irvine’s men at the start of the second half and the Owls needed a quick goal to get themselves firmly back in the contest.

The Owls boss shuffled his pack at the interval, bringing on Miller and Leon Clarke for Soares and Gray respectively as he looked for a big turnaround from his troops in the second 45 minutes.

But it did little to stop the flow of Reading attacks, with the hosts all-but sealing the three points just seven minutes after the restart with their third goal of the game.

The quick Church got beyond the Wednesday back four before turning and firing a long-range effort which gave Grant no chance as it deflected in to the goal off the inside of the post.

With confidence and belief seemingly already at a low going into the game, it made things worse for the Owls, who already have bad memories of heavy defeats at the Royals’ home ground.

With nothing to lose the visitors pushed forward for a ray of light at thge end of the tunnel, and Clarke came close from close-range before captain James O’Connor also shot wide.

Wednesday had to push men forward and when they did they knew that gaps would be left open at the back which the quick Reading attack could exploit – and they did just that to wrap the game up in emphatic fashion.

The experienced Rasiak was well positioned to fire home his second goal of the game when Beevers failed to deal with a dangerous cross inside the Owls’ box.

And it was 5-0 when poor Wednesday defending allowed Kebe in to double his tally for the afternoon and make it a famous, and potentially vital, victory for the Royals in the 71st minute.

With 20 minutes to go the Owls could have endured an even heavier defeat, but the hosts were understandably happy to sit back on their lead and see out the remainder of the game in comfortable fashion and complete a superb week for the Royals.

For Wednesday, it leaves them back in the bottom three and in real danger of a return to League 1 unless things take a drastic turn for the better.

Full-Time: Reading 5-0 Wednesday