Reading, a club with a sizable Irish contingent, have won the richest prize in club football; promotion to the Premier League. It’s a prize which could be worth up to £100million.
With a total of six Irish on the books (a couple of whom will have hopes of traveling to Euro 2012); Tuesday night saw scenes of wild celebration on the Madejski pitch as Mikele Leigertwood scored a winner from an Ian Harte free-kick for the London side nine minutes from time.
With Nottingham Forest not yet safe from relegation; they battled hard all night but were eventually undone by the superior quality of the home side.
The fact that West Ham did not beat Brighton meant that the table topping Royals could not be caught for a top two position and had secured a return to the Premier League having been relegated from the Premier League – their only previous appearance in the top flight on the final day of the 2007-’08 season.
The final whistle was greeted with wild scenes of jubilation as several thousand Royals’ fans spilt onto the pitch to celebrate with players.
Forest came close to spoiling the party with a last minute header from Marcus Tudgay being cleared off the Reading goal-line by Alex Pearce with Adam Federici doing enough to scramble the rebound off the line.
It was Reading’s sixth successive win, eighth in a row at home and their 15th in the last 17 games, form which has seen them leapfrog long-time leaders Southampton at the top of the table. Having been 13 points adrift of the automatic promotion placings 18 games ago; Reading have produced an amazing second half of the season to ensure one of the guaranteed promotion spots.
Forest might consider themselves a little unlucky not to get something from the game, but, with results elsewhere going their way, they are now assured of Championship football for next season. Victory for Reading over Crystal Palace at the Madejski Stadium this Saturday meanwhile would ensure that the Royals win the Championship title.