Reading Fight Against Relegation to Stay in the Premier League

Sarah ShannonContributor IFebruary 20, 2013

Supersub Adam Le Fondre
Supersub Adam Le FondreScott Heavey/Getty Images

Reading had a fight on their hands the moment they were promoted to the Premiership. 

A 1-1 draw against Stoke in the opening game of the season gave a firm belief that the Royals could mount a challenge to stay in the Premier League. 

But as the festive period approached, the fans high expectations had not been answered. The team from Berkshire had picked up only one win against Everton after two goals from Adam Le Fondre helped them fight back from 1-0 down. 

After picking up points through draws at home to Newcastle United and Fulham and with near misses against league leaders Manchester United (3-4) and a 1-0 away defeat to current champions Manchester City, something clearly had to change at the Madejski.

With the old year drawing to a close, a new Reading bounced into 2013.  January was the time for a super sub, and he came with the name Adam Le Fondre. 

After losing their first league game to Spurs, it was crucial to pick up three points when West Bromwich Albion visited the Madejski. However, after 69 minutes and two goals from Romelu Lukaku, it seemed like it was the same old days for Reading fans. 

But with the last ten minutes of the game approaching, Reading got the spark they needed to pull off a great escape, as goals from Jimmy Kebe, Adam Le Fondre and a last-minute strike from Pavel Pogrebnyak saw the Royals pick up a vital three points.

This kick-started Reading's attack out of the relegation zone, and when they faced Newcastle at St James' Park, fans had not only three points to celebrate but their first away victory in the league since 2008 as well. It was down to super-sub Le Fondre to finish the job, as McDermott called him from the bench. With his first kick of the game, he levelled the score and quickly finished off a lacklustre Magpies side. 

When Chelsea came calling, it was again down to the man who starts on the bench to help salvage a point for the Royals. After the Blues took a commanding 2-0 lead, they looked to have the points in the bag until Le Fondre struck, clawing one goal back and levelling up the scoreline with the last kick of the game.

It was Sunderland who were next on Reading's hit list, and Jimmy Kebe's in particular, as the midfielder grabbed both goals in the win. 

Stoke away was next for the Royals, and after equalising, they suffered an agonising loss when Cameron Jerome scored for the Potters. 

Reading's cup form, however, was not always representative of their league form. The Royals beat Peterborough and QPR in the Capital One Cup before succumbing to a 5-7 defeat against Arsenal after the Gunners came back from a 4-0 deficit to move to the next round. 

It was a similar story in the FA Cup with convincing wins against Crawley Town and Sheffield United before Reading was again knocked out by Premiership opposition. 

So after a fantastic run in January, which saw Le Fondre named player of the month and Brian McDermott named manager of the month, can Reading survive?

Fans are predicting that the Royals can pick up wins against Wigan, Aston Villa, Southampton and QPR, and then suffer loses against Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City, with the other results being draws.

With Reading sitting 18th in the Premier League, just one point behind Aston Villa, a win against Wigan could see them jump out of the relegation zone and be just one point behind Newcastle and Southampton.

With Le Fondre averaging a goal every 100 minutes and drawing comparisons to RVP and Wayne Rooney, Jobi McAnuff finding his scoring boots against Reading and Jimmy Kebe finding the back of the net, Reading could stay in the Premiership next season.

But they will have a fight on their hands, as QPR and Wigan will not let them pull away from the relegation zone easily.