09:59PM, Tuesday 14 February 2017
Reading staved off a spirited second-half fightback as they beat Brentford 3-2 in a five-goal thriller at the Madejski Stadium.
Jaap Stam’s side had looked on course to narrow the gap on the automatic promotion spots after John Swift gave them a 21st minute lead.
But a frenetic five minutes mid-way through the second half saw the Bees take the lead with Spanish winger Jota and Lasse Vibe grabbing the goals.
Reading refused to be beaten though and levelled in the 77th minute through Danny Williams before substitute Roy Beerens capitalised on a goalkeeping error to seal victory.
The relationship between Jaap Stam and Reading has survived well past the honeymoon period this season and looked to be going from strength to strength when the hosts took a 21st minute lead.
Danger man Gareth McCleary scampered down the right hand channel and saw his cross turned onto the post, only for Swift to smash home the rebound past Daniel Bentley.
Liam Moore headed narrowly over minutes later as the hosts threatened to take control of the tie.
But Brentford grew in confidence and should have levelled in the 36th minute when Spanish winger Jota found space in the area but dragged his shot wide.
The visitors carried on their momentum from the first-half and were level in the 63rd minute as Jota finally converted following a clever pull back from substitute Florian Jozefzoon.
And disaster struck just minutes later when Lasse Vibe beat the offside trap before coolly tucking the ball past Ali Al-Habsi.
The Valentine’s Day mood within the ground soured, but Stam’s men soon came roaring back.
It was McCleary again, the sweetheart of the Royals faithful, who did the damage, finding room down the right hand side again and crossing for Danny Williams to equalise in the 77th minute.
Bees keeper Daniel Bentley then handed victory to the hosts in calamitous fashion, as his miscued clearance landed at the feet of Yann Kermogant who skewed his shot towards goal only for Roy Beerens to tuck it into an empty net.
Hearts were in mouths late on when the lively Brentford substitute Florian Jozefzoon went close but Al-Habsi was on hand to keep his low drive out.
The victory keeps Reading in fourth place, five points off the automatic play-off places.
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A tribute to John Spicer, who died in a traffic collision in Winkfield Road on Sunday, has been issued by his family this evening.