Both managers fielded strong starting line-ups as Palace went into their final pre-season fixture at the Madejski Stadium this afternoon. The Eagles suffering a 2-0 defeat to Premier League new boys Reading, who edged the game thanks to two early second half goals.
In the opening stages of the game Adam La Fondra shot well over the bar when well placed for the home side, but it was Palace who dominated for long periods in the first half. A shot from Jonathan Williams was deflected for a corner on 15 minutes and a resulting cross by Owen Garvan was headed narrowly over by Aaron Martin.
Sustained pressure produced another corner that was cleared but the Eagles kept the momentum going with some neat passing through the middle of the pitch involving Williams, Garvan and David Wright.
Garvan had a shot from a direct free kick which went narrowly wide and another free kick from Garvan on the half hour went just over Adam Federici’s bar.
A late challenge by Danny Guthrie on young Williams on 36 minutes saw him forced off and Dougie Freedman later confirmed that the resulting calf injury would keep the youngster out of Tuesday’s trip to Exeter.
Jose Baxter, who came on as sub, fired wide from 15 yards. But it was Pavel Pogrebnyak who had the best chance for Reading just before the break when he fired over the bar when it seemed easier to score.
Reading played at a much higher tempo and took the initiative at the start of the second period.
On 52 minutes Garath McCleary, who was causing all sorts of problems down the right, got behind his man and crossed for Pogrebnyak who fired high into the net for the opening goal of the afternoon and a minute later a low cross from the left by Hal Robson-Kanu was converted by Le Fondre to make it 2-0 from the edge of the six yard box.
Two further opportunities fell to Reading but Julian Speroni was in fine form to keep out a close range header from Pogrebnyak in particular, as the home side began to take control of the second half.
As the game entered the last quarter Jermaine Easter broke away and Federici saved both his initial shot and his follow-up effort.
The Eagles tried to get back into the game and Dougie Freedman made a number of substitutions to give most of the squad a run out in the closing stages.
In a late flourish Baxter put Easter free but his shot went just wide of Federici’s right hand post and Baxter himself tried to chip the keeper from just outside the box, without success.
Palace knew it wasn’t to be their day when once again Easter fired over approaching the final whistle.
Pre-Season is now over and the season starts at Exeter in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday evening.
Team: Speroni, Ward (Ramage 66), Moxey, McCarthy, Martin, Wright (Dikagoi), Garvan (O’Keefe 73), Williams (Baxter 39), Kossoko (Murray 55), Wilbraham (Easter 55), Parr (Zaha 73).
Attendance 6,251 (603 away support).