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Madejski Stadium | 17th November 2012 15:00

Reading v Everton

Everton's comeback kings were forced to swallow a taste of their own medicine as Reading overcame Steven Naismith's early opener to inflict the Blues' second league defeat of the season.

Adam Le Fondre's second-half brace swung the meeting the way of the hosts but David Moyes will have reason to be frustrated after his side saw two fierce penalty shouts ignored.

Moyes made two changes to the side which ended a run of four straight draws with a 2-1 victory over Sunderland last weekend.

In came Naismith for the hamstrung Kevin Mirallas, while Thomas Hitzlsperger was handed a first Everton start in place of Club captain Phil Neville, a player Moyes later confirmed will be out for up to two months after undergoing knee surgery.

It meant Phil Jagielka was made captain for the day and the England centre-half - scorer of the only goal the last time the two sides met in the league four-and-a-half years ago - nearly stabbed the visitors into a second-minute lead, only to be thwarted by a bold block from goalkeeper Adam Federici.

Such a positive start would have been a filip for a side who had surrendered the first goal in each of their last six outings. In coming back to take points on all six occasions, Moyes' men set a Premier League record, one which ended just eight minutes later when Naismith nipped in to give his side a long sought-after lead.

Steven Naismith pounces to open the scoring.Steven Naismith pounces to open the scoring.

A ball into Marouane Fellaini was brought down by the burly Belgian, and though his touch took the chance away, Kaspars Gorkss and Sean Morrison stood motionless as former Rangers man Naismith sneaked in around the back to accept an invitation almost impossible to refuse.

On the eve of the contest, Naismith cited uncharacteristic defensive lapses as one reason for Everton having to do things the hard way of late. The Scot's point was almost proved instantly as a long punt forward was allowed to bounce, then misjudged by Tim Howard, opening up the opportunity for Le Fondre to poke the ball past the American and leave him marooned in no man's land.

Fortunately for the Blues, on this occasion the former Football League predator tried to lift an effort over the back-tracking John Heitinga and succeeded only in picking out the front row of a frustrated stand of home supporters.

Lesson heeded, the Blues quickly regained control and Steven Pienaar may have doubled the lead with 20 minutes played. Given time to advance towards goal, the South African perhaps couldn't believe his luck as his marker backed off and skewed his shot hard against an advertising board.

Having been gifted his opener, Naismith should then have been handed a penalty when Gorkss' clumsy challenge sent him tumbling in the box. Neither referee Martin Atkinson nor his linesman saw an infringement, however, leaving the scorer thumping the ground in frustration.

In his previous spells in England, Hitzlsperger provided regular reminders of the raw left-foot thunder that earned him the nickname 'Der Hammer' and nine minutes before the break the former Aston Villa and West Ham star showed he'd lost none of his lust to shoot, unleashing a swerving bullet from the edge of the box that Federici could only spill.

And sensing a second might be imminent, the Blues rammed their foot on the gas. Newly-capped England international Leon Osman was denied by Federici as he latched on to a clever reverse pass from the busy Naismith, before Nikica Jelavic saw a rasping half-volley blocked seemingly by the hand of the diving Morrison. Again referee Atkinson was not convinced; again the Yorkshire-born whistleblower kept his hands by his side.

If it was a frustrated Everton that headed to the dressing room at the break, their mood would have lifted little when Reading found an equaliser with pretty much their first attack of the second half.

Adam Federici is alert to prevent Leon Osman from doubling the visitors' lead.Adam Federici is alert to deny Leon Osman

A free-kick was awarded 35-yards out and Le Fondre climbed highest to glance Nicky Shorey's swirling centre high to Howard's left.
 
The fallout was another spell of Everton pressure and after Jelavic had been halted by a smart sliding challenge from Morrison, the same player lunged in to deny Hitzlsperger after the German had burst forward to meet a neat sliding pass from Pienaar.

Another chance went begging as Osman stumbled at the vital moment and the Blues were made to pay for their failure to convert chances when Atkinson finally saw reason to point to the spot. In fairness, Seamus Coleman, the offender, could have few complaints after jumping into the back of Le Fondre. Fellaini didn't agree and his gesticulations earned him a fifth yellow card of the season, ruling him out of next weekend's home meeting with Norwich City.

Le Fondre duly dusted himself off and calmly wrong-footed Howard to give Reading their first Premier League win of the season. Everton, meanwhile, slipped a place to fifth.

By Adam Clark

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