MAGIC MUR­RAY DOWNS FUL­HAM

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Alex Smith

Read­ing new-boy Glenn Mur­ray piled more pres­sure on Ful­ham man­ager Felix Ma­gath with a two-goal de­but to send the ten-man Cot­tagers bot­tom of the ta­ble.

Mur­ray joined Read­ing on loan from Crys­tal Palace on trans­fer dead­line day and wasted lit­tle time mak­ing his mark for the Roy­als.

The veteran striker opened the scor­ing after 15 min­utes with a pow­er­ful div­ing header after Jor­dan Obita’s cross.

Mur­ray dou­bled his tally nine min­utes after half-time, leap­ing to head in an Obita cor­ner be­fore Nick Black­man rounded Ful­ham goal­keeper Ga­bor Ki­raly to add a de­served third late on.

Ma­gath’s side are still with­out a Cham­pi­onship win since their rel­e­ga­tion from the Premier League.

The task was made dou­bly hard when debu­tant striker Matt Smith was dis­missed for a reck­less lunge on Obita in the 18th minute. Smith, a £500,000 buy from Leeds, dan­ger­ously dived in on the Read­ing left-back to leave ref­eree Mike Jones with no choice but to flash the red card.

But Ma­gath was un­happy at a lack of pro­tec­tion from Jones for his new front-man.

Ma­gath said:“He didn’t pro­tect Matt Smith and he didn’t pro­tect our goal­keeper. I have seen wrestling from the first minute and my goal­keeper said he was held for the sec­ond goal.

“There was no ball or noth­ing and he wanted to go for­ward and he was blocked off, that was frus­trat­ing him.

“I can un­der­stand Matt Smith’s re­ac­tion. He is a very good guy and he apol­o­gised to ev­ery­one.

“I have spo­ken with him, sure he made a mis­take but I un­der­stand him. It was wrong what he did but he was not pro­tected by the ref­eree.”

Read­ing dom­i­nated from early on, with Mur­ray and strike part­ner Si­mon Cox in­ter­chang­ing well be­fore Jake Tay­lor slid his shot wide.

Ki­raly, the third shot-stop­per used by Ma­gath this sea­son, pulled off three re­mark­able saves in the open­ing ex­changes of the sec­ond half.

Cox’s pow­er­ful strike forced a bril­liant in­stinc­tive save from the Hun­gar­ian, be­fore Tay­lor’s shot from out­side the area was pushed round the post.

Large sec­tions of the vis­it­ing sup­port­ers were call­ing for Ma­gath’s sack­ing as they strug­gle to ad­just to life in a lower di­vi­sion.

But Ma­gath turned a deaf ear to the taunts, say­ing:“I didn’t hear the sack­ing chants be­cause I am too in­volved in the game and don’t hear what hap­pens out­side.

“What can I tell the fans? I can un­der­stand the fans. They are frus­trated and shout­ing. I am the man­ager I take care of the fans, I work for the fans.

“They support us very well.We went down and they were al­ways to our side. I can un­der­stand they are dis­ap­pointed.”

Read­ing boss Nigel Ad­kins hauled a dis­ap­pointed Mur­ray off mid­way through the sec­ond half, with the striker primed for a de­but hat-trick.

Ad­kins said:“I knew a striker on two goals would want to score a third one. I have to look at the big pic­ture and make the big de­ci­sions.

“I didn’t want to take the risk of him break­ing down, not that it was a worry. I thought he played some good foot­ball. He and Cox look like they had played to­gether for years.

“We had a very good trans­fer win­dow in an at­tack­ing sense with Cox, Jamie Mackie and Mur­ray com­ing in and we look much bet­ter on pa­per.

“The send­ing off made it dif­fi­cult for us to break them down and we were wor­ried about con­ced­ing on the counter.

“We never looked like con­ced­ing but had to keep the mind-set of the play­ers.

“That was our third clean sheet in a row.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

DOU­BLE TROU­BLE: Glenn Mur­ray scores the sec­ond goal for Read­ing

SU­PER SUB: Nick Black­man came off the bench to score

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