Late Patrick Roberts strike hands Sunderland victory over struggling Reading
Patrick Roberts struck late on as Sunderland moved to within a point of the Sky Bet Championship play-off places with a 1-0 win over struggling Reading.
The Black Cats looked set to be dealt a blow in their pursuit of a top-six spot, as stubborn Reading frustrated the hosts for long periods at the Stadium of Light.
But ex-Manchester City man Roberts finally broke the resistance of the Royals as he hammered home after 84 minutes to extend Reading’s poor Championship run to six games without a win.
Reading were first to threaten when a Tom Ince shot flashed wide with less than 20 seconds on the clock.
That was the only effort of note in a sloppy and sluggish opening, with Sunderland’s first attempt on goal not coming until the 25-minute mark, when Dan Ballard headed over from a Roberts free-kick.
Reading, despite their recent struggles, were slightly the better side in the opening period, and failed to make the most of a couple of counter-attack opportunities. Junior Hoilett had a sight of goal after half an hour but his effort was deflected wide off Aji Alese. Alese then had half a chance of his own, heading over from another Roberts free-kick.
Joe Gelhardt, making his home debut after his January loan move from Leeds, struggled to get into the game in the first half, but had his first glimpse of goal early in the second period.
Played in by Edouard Michut, Gelhardt was running away from goal but tried to catch Reading keeper Joe Lumley off guard with a first-time finish that rolled just wide of the far post.
Soon after, Roberts picked out the advanced Alese with a sublime pass but after smartly bringing it under control, the left-back lifted the ball over the bar.
Roberts was increasingly influential and the former Manchester City playmaker teed up another chance when he found Trai Hume in the box, who forced a good save out of Lumley at his front post.
Lumley then denied Roberts from the edge of the area before Alese’s rebound was blocked. It was one way traffic and Michut was the next to try his luck. Lumley’s attempted punched clearance landed at the feet of the midfielder, who blazed over.
Mowbray turned to his bench and introduced Isaac Lihadji, a debut for the forward after his January move from Lille. But Roberts remained the home side’s main threat and yet again went close after 80 minutes with a fierce strike from the edge of the area that flashed just over the bar.
Roberts finally got the goal that he and Sunderland deserved late on, pouncing on some defensive uncertainty in the Reading box, before firing past the helpless Lumley.
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