Reading's Relegation Battle: 5 Reasons They Can Survive the Drop
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Tipped as relegation candidates, Reading had a survival fight on their hands from the first day of the season. With an understrength squad not seen as Premier League standard, the Royals have turned their fortunes around.
With every game now like an FA Cup final, five key factors can keep the team's Premier League dream alive.
Adam Le Fondre
Le Fondre Scoring Against Chelsea
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Known to the fans as Alfie, Adam Le Fondre had already proven he could score goals in the blue and white hoops of Reading.
As a Premier League future dawned, would he show the same prowess he had in the Championship? The answer to that question was yes.
Not only did he score on his Premier League debut, he earned the Royals' first three points of the season after finding the back of the net twice against Everton.
It was January that was Le Fondre's month to shine, though. He scored five league goals in 68 minutes over the course of three games.
Coming off the bench, he has proved he is a force to be reckoned with, earning him the nickname "Adam Le-thal Fondre."
First Premier League Away Win Since 2008
Reading taking on Newcastle at St James' Park
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When Reading visited St. James' Park, it was a clash between two teams that were fighting to stay out of the relegation zone.
It didn't take long for Newcastle to take the lead thanks to a free kick from Yohan Cabaye.
With the home side in the driving seat, Reading seemed to be dead and buried.
That is, until Brian McDermott called upon Adam Le Fondre.
The newly named supersub came off the bench to grab the equalising goal with almost his first touch of the ball before scoring the winning goal that sent Reading out of the relegation zone.
It was also the team's first Premier League away victory since the 2007-08 season.
Reading taking on Chelsea
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January was an excellent month in the Premier League for Reading, with the team climbing out of the relegation zone.
A cup win against Crawley got them on the right track, and when West Brom visited the Madejski, it was time for the Royals to shine.
After going two goals behind, Reading began the comeback and took the victory thanks to a last-minute winner from Pavel Pogrebnyak.
The same could be said when Chelsea were in town. After going two goals behind, a comeback ensued and a point was rescued.
The Players Still Have Belief
Reading Striker Noel Hunt
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The Reading stars still have belief that they can battle against all the odds and get out of the relegation zone and to safety before the end of the season.
Noel Hunt has called for the fans to get behind the Royals, paying homage to the support that they give the team (via ReadingFC.co.uk):
I don't know if they realise how important they are - because there are some players that really respond to the fans. They are like the 12th man - that's the way it's been for years.
Captain Jobi McAnuff is also taking a positive approach as Reading prepare to take on Everton, the next in a string of many important games (via ReadingFC.co.uk):
We'll back ourselves to get the points we need to stay up. We've got some good games to look forward to and we're just going to stick together as a group of players and as a club, remain positive and moving forward to get the positive results we need to.
January's Player and Manager of the Month
Reading Manager Brian McDermott
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After only losing one game, Brian McDermott picked up the Premier League Manager of the Month award for January. His team took seven points out of a possible 12.
This is the first time that a Royals manager has won the award since 2006.
It was not only the manager who picked up an award, though. Adam Le Fondre was given Player of the Month award after his impressive performances off the bench.
With the Player of the Month and Manager of the Month awards going to Reading to start 2013, it's clear that the Royals are not going down without a fight.