Crystal Palace aiming to ruin Reading's party
THE Madejski will surely have a carnival atmosphere when Palace visit today (Saturday) after Reading secured promotion back to the Premier League on Tuesday evening.
But Dougie Freedman's side will be planning to gatecrash the party and claim the win.
Achieving such a feat will be easier said than done, however, with the Royals being in the form they are and they will be keen to sign off at home with a victory.
Mikele Leigertwood's solitary goal was enough to beat Nottingham Forest, a result which saw Reading secure a return to the Premier League after a four-year absence.
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Brian McDermott's side were down in 16th in early November, thanks to a slow start to the campaign, but 15 wins from their last 17 matches has sent them soaring to the top of the league.
According to the manager, promotion was "meant to be".
"It's an exciting time and a great night for the club," McDermott said. "I couldn't see too much good in losing that play-off final at Wembley last year (Swansea won the match 4-2), but perhaps this is meant to be.
"Losing at Wembley took me a couple of months to get over, but this makes it all worthwhile. It tests your resolve and it shows you what you are about as people. Since the seventh game of the season we've been the best team in this division by a long, long way. It's difficult to enjoy yourself as a manager but I can do tonight."
While most onlookers thought Southampton and West Ham would be slugging it out for the top two spots, Reading have powered through to upset the applecart and seal automatic promotion with two games remaining.
Former Blackburn striker Jason Roberts has been instrumental in maintaining the team's success since joining in January, scoring six goals in 15 games. Adam Le Fondre is the team's top scorer with 15 goals, while Noel Hunt has hit the net eight times.
Palace will be wary not to concede free-kicks around their area with former Leeds defender Ian Harte deadly with his left-foot and Jobi McAnuff's pace down the wing has troubled defences all season.
Palace managed to get a point the last time the two teams squared off in late October - Glenn Murray had a goal ruled out, while Reading's Kaspars Gorkss also suffered the same fate in the last minute.
The way Reading are currently performing, another 0-0 looks highly unlikely.
Reading probable (4-4-2): Federici, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Cummings, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Kebe, Mullins, Le Fondre, Roberts.