Reading 0-2 Luton Town: Things go from bad to worse for the Royals

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Luton took full advantage of Reading’s home discomforts as they followed up Saturday’s last-gasp victory over promotion chasing Bournemouth with a more straightforward victory.

A Tom Holmes own goal and a sweeping Allan Campbell finish ensured Veljko Paunovic’s side have now gone eight games without tasting success at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

They never once looked like arresting that woeful record against Nathan Jones’s side who moved up to 11th – seven points off the promotion places with games in hand over every side above them bar one.

Luton Town players celebrate their first goal of the game in the routine win at Reading

Luton Town players celebrate their first goal of the game in the routine win at Reading

MATCH FACTS 

Reading: Southwood, Ashcroft (Camara 80), Holmes, Laurent, Bristow, Drinkwater, Rinomhota, Morrison, Swift, Dele, Bashiru (Clarke 69), Puscas (Joao 59).

Subs not used: Abrefa, Holzman, Holden.

Goals: None

Booked: Joao, Drinkwater

Luton: Shea, Burke, Bradley, Naismith, Kioso, Mpanzu, Campbell (Osho 79), Clark (Lansbury 69), Bell, Jerome (Onyedinma 74), Adebayo. 

Subs not used: Potts, Berry, Sluga, Mendes Gomes.

Goals: Holmes 33 (OG), Campbell (58)

Booked: None

Referee: Tim Robinson

‘We’re in a decent place, our numbers back up everything we want to do,’ the Luton boss said.

‘It’s not so much a play-off push, it’s boundaries. Let’s see where we can go.’

It has been a challenging week for the Royals, who saw Andy Carroll’s short-term deal expire after Saturday’s defeat at Middlesbrough, a game in which they also lost Junior Hoilett to injury. The striker was present last night but he has yet to respond to the club about extending his stay.

Carroll’s last act of his deal was to put them in front at the Riverside, only for two late goals to consign them to back-to-back defeats – an altogether different kind of disappointment experienced to the one felt after their 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Fulham four days earlier.

Such has Carroll’s form been in the second tier that Burnley have emerged as a genuine option for the free agent, with Sean Dyche desperately seeking to add to his attack after losing Chris Wood to the 33-year-old’s previous club Newcastle.

Paunovic had made positive noises about Carroll remaining at Reading at the weekend, but his absence was painfully apparent on a night where he was sorely missed as a focal point for their attack.

Instead, George Puscas led a largely toothless line, with almost all the attacking action exclusively reserved for the other end.

Centre back Michael Morrison returned from a long-term knee injury to add some cheer for the hosts, especially given the saga surrounding wantaway defender Liam Moore, who was officially stripped of the armband by the club at the weekend.

It was another defender attracting unwanted attention just after the half-hour mark though. Jordan Clark was allowed to drive forward down the inside left channel before teeing up Amari’l Bell to cross.

With Cameron Jerome lurking behind him Tom Holmes was forced to deal with the driven cross but could only divert his diving header beyond Luke Southwood and into his own net.

Tom Dele-Bashiru of Reading is challenged by Allan Campbell, who grabbed Luton's second

Tom Dele-Bashiru of Reading is challenged by Allan Campbell, who grabbed Luton’s second

Luton Town manager Nathan Jones barks instructions at his players from the touchline

Luton Town manager Nathan Jones barks instructions at his players from the touchline

Reading almost mustered an immediate response as the game threatened to burst into life. John Swift picked up the ball on the right-hand side and was allowed to drift inside before fizzing a low effort just wide of James Shea’s right-hand post from the edge of the area.

That was as good as it got for Reading, who were pegged back in their own half for the remainder of the half.

‘I was very disappointed with the character and the lack of mentality we showed,’ Paunovic said afterwards.

‘We need to play with more urgency, more anger.’

Surviving until the break proved merely a stay of execution as Jones’s men turned the screw in the second half.

Defeat is another major blow to Reading's relegation fears as they slip further towards the drop

Defeat is another major blow to Reading’s relegation fears as they slip further towards the drop

The win was all-but secured in the 59th minute. A flowing move released Elijah Adebayo down the right and his centre was perfectly placed for Campbell to tuck home from close range. The celebrations from the away end were pierced by a cascade of boos from the other three corners of the ground.

Southwood had to alert to prevent the same scorer adding a third, as he held an effort from inside the area moments later.

Adebayo thought he had added a third with just two minutes left on the clock, but he was denied by the linesman after tucking home substitute Fred Onyedinma’s dragged effort across goal. It mattered little, though. For Reading, the damage had already been done.

Acun Ilicali’s reign as new Hull owner began with a determined 2-0 victory against third-placed Blackburn.

The Turkish businessman completed his £20million takeover of the Sky Bet Championship side on Wednesday afternoon and was unveiled in front of an enthusiastic crowd before kick-off.

Ilicali will have been most impressed by Hull’s brave victory over in-form opponents – especially once George Honeyman opened the scoring after eight minutes.

Tom Eaves then headed home a second with 67 minutes gone against a Blackburn side that looked a fallow imitation of the team that has powered into the frame for promotion. 

Acun Ilicali's reign as new Hull owner began with a determined 2-0 victory against Blackburn

Acun Ilicali’s reign as new Hull owner began with a determined 2-0 victory against Blackburn

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