Wasteful Cobblers punished by Reading in narrow Good Friday defeat

Reading 1 Northampton Town 0
Louis Appéré misses Cobblers' best chance against Reading, denied by goalkeeper Joel Pereira. Picture: Pete NortonLouis Appéré misses Cobblers' best chance against Reading, denied by goalkeeper Joel Pereira. Picture: Pete Norton
Louis Appéré misses Cobblers' best chance against Reading, denied by goalkeeper Joel Pereira. Picture: Pete Norton

Cobblers paid the price for missed chances when they were beaten 1-0 away at Reading on Good Friday.

The first half at the Select Car Leasing Stadium ended in stalemate but it provided decent entertainment as both sides created chances, with Royals goalkeeper Joel Pereira in particular having to make a string of smart saves to keep Sam Hoskins – twice – and Louis Appéré at bay.

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Those misses would prove costly in the second half as a tight game was decided by a moment of quality on 65 minutes when Royals substitute Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan picked out the corner with a superb finish.

Jon Guthrie returned to captain the Cobblers against Reading and Aaron McGowan was also fit enough to start but Liam Moore missed out against his former club. Goalkeeper Lee Burge was back on the bench after injury.

Both sides tested the waters with half chances in the opening 10 minutes as Guthrie's header was no trouble for Pereira before Ben Elliott shanked wide at the other end as Cobblers edged possession early on while Reading threatened in transition.

Guthrie steered another header over the bar from Mitch Pinnock’s terrific free-kick but the home side were having more dangerous moments, even if it took until the 27th minute to create a clear-cut chance when McGowan cleared Sam Smith’s header off the line with Charlie Savage unable to convert the loose ball.

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It was then Northampton’s turn to create a flurry of opportunities as the visitors finished the first half well. Hoskins saw his curler beaten away by Pereira after some wonderful close control, Pinnock miscued the rebound before the ball fell back to Hoskins but again Reading's ‘keeper was at full stretch to deny him.

Cobblers were enjoying their best spell of the game and they should have taken a lead into half-time when Appéré did well to take the ball off Elliott and get through on goal, but with only Pereira to beat, his shot lacked conviction and accuracy and was well saved.

Reading slightly edged things after the restart as Smith’s shot deflected kindly for Louis Moulden to gather, but the second half lacked the intensity of the first and took a while to get going.

But it came to life with a moment of excellence from Ehibhatiomhan. He had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes when the ball broke to him on the corner of the penalty box and he whipped an exquisite first-time finish into the far corner.

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Manny Monthé was close to a quick reply, heading wide from Pinnock’s cross, before Brady rung the changes as Shaun McWilliams, Tyreece Simpson and Tony Springett all came on.

Kieron Bowie and Ali Koiki also joined the action in the final 10 minutes but Cobblers could only muster harmless shots from range in the closing stages and Reading went the closest to adding another goal when Femi Azeez’s header hit the bar in stoppage-time.

Reading: Pereira, Mola, Elliott (Ehibhatiomhan 59), Savage, Wing ©, Mbengue, Bindon, Dorsett (Abrefa 75), Azeez (Mukairu 90), Smith, Knibbs

Subs not used: Button, Holmes, Wareham, Craig

Cobblers: Moulden, McGowan (McWilliams 66), Sherring, Guthrie ©, Monthé (Koiki 82), Sowerby (Springett 75), Fox, Leonard, Pinnock, Hoskins (Bowie 82), Appéré (Simpson 76)

Subs not used: Burge, Dyche

Referee: Thomas Parsons

Attendance: 15,451

Cobblers fans: 1,112