Royals visit Saints with riches beckoning
Six-pointer, title-decider, top-of-the-table clash. While there are no shortage of cliches to describe Reading's trip to Southampton on Friday night, once the rhetoric is stripped away one fact remains - a winner would have one foot in the money-spinning English Premier League.
With four matches remaining, long-term leaders Southampton
and form-side Reading are locked at the top of English soccer's
second tier on 82 points each.
Southampton's superior goal difference has them sitting top
but all that could change after the clash at St Mary's, as
Reading, with eight wins from their last 10 matches, line up the
Saints in their sights.
"It is going to be the place to be on Friday," Royals
manager Brian McDermott said, while seasoned defender Ian Harte
spelled out Reading's goal. "Every game is massive from now on.
We're not there until it's done," he told the club website.
"We want to get into the top flight and are in a great
position to do that. With the position we are in now, we want to
go for the top."
Southampton, whose 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace on Monday
was their first win in three games, are focusing on steadying
the ship with Premier League riches in sight.
"We have to make sure we keep a calmness about ourselves,"
manager Nigel Adkins said. "Go about everything in a
professional manner and give our fantastic supporters the
opportunity to take this fantastic football club back to where
Saints' striker Rickie Lambert, who notched his 25th and
26th league goals of the season in the win at Palace, is trying
to remain grounded.
The league's leading scorer said: "Obviously it's massively
important and it will go a long way towards determining the
winner of the league, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the
winner of that game will win the league."
Third-placed West Ham, who host Brighton on Saturday, are
six points back, looking for Southampton and Reading to slip up.
"Now we have to think of four wins and 12 points and hope
that either Southampton or Reading slip up enough for us to get
in there," manager Sam Allardyce told the club's website.
April 13 SOUTHAMPTON v Reading
April 17 Peterborough Utd v SOUTHAMPTON
April 21 Middlesbrough v SOUTHAMPTON
April 28 SOUTHAMPTON v Coventry City
April 13 Southampton v READING
April 17 READING v Nottingham Forest
April 21 READING v Crystal Palace
April 28 Birmingham City v READING
April 14 WEST HAM v Brighton
April 17 Bristol City v WEST HAM
April 23 Leicester v WEST HAM
April 28 WEST HAM v Hull City