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ROBINS HAVE THE FINAL SAY; Johnson's team talk works a treat READING 0 BRISTOL CITY 2 Adebola 26, Skuse 48 Coca Cola CHAMPIONSHIP.

Byline: BY JOHN GUBBA

GARY JOHNSON told his players to treat this crunch encounter like a cup final - and the psychology worked a treat as Dele Adebola made a decisive goalscoring return to send the Robins on their way to an easy win over their promotion rivals.

"Onthe way into the ground on the team bus it felt like a cup final - and the game was that important for us," explained Johnson.

"It was a gamble to approach the game that way but the players took it on board and the first half was a fantastic performance by us, urged on by 4,500 of our fans bouncing behind the goal."

Back in the side in place of Stern John, Adebola made his huge presence count when he headed home Michael McIndoe's perfectly placed free-kick to put City ahead.

And there was no way back for Reading when Cole Skuse pounced in a goalmouth scramble three minutes after the break to ensure City avenged their 4-1 defeat last November in style.

"We used that result at our place as motivation," said Johnson, who insisted he always believed his team were destined for the top six, even when they were languishing in 18th place.

Whilethe future looks bright for the Robins, who are growing in confidence and move to fourth in the table, an alarming barren spell continues to dent the Royals' faltering promotion challenge.

Their only goal in their last five matches was a significant winner against table-toppers Wolves. But, worryingly, Steve Coppell's side have failed to score in seven outings.

"It is an obvious concern but I domy job and we work hard in training," said Coppell. "If I knew what the problem was I would have done something about it by now."

Inafree-flowing start by both teams, it was Reading who almost took an early lead on 13 minutes when full-back Chris Armstrong pressed forward and hit the outside of the post with a low shot that had Adriano Basso well beaten.

It was the closest the home side came all afternoon.

By contrast, City, urged on bytheir vociferous travelling support, tookthe lead with a clinical goal from a set-piece and never looked back.

McIndoe's delivery was inch-perfect and Adebola easily outjumped Michael Duberry to head home.

After Skuse had claimed City's second the visitors began to look comfortable.

Apart from LeroyLita's wild shot over the bar in another scamble, this time in front of the jubilant travelling City fans, Reading offered few threats until a frantic injurytime surge that still produced no joy.

Coppell responsed to suggestions teams have worked out how to nullify his side's previous goal-threat by concluding: "Maybe we are a one-trick pony.

Only time will tell."

HOW THEY RATED

READING

6 Federici

6 Rosenior

6 Pearce

6 Duberry

5 Armstrong

6 Kebe

6 Cisse

6 Harper

7 S Hunt

5 Doyle

5 Lita

BRISTOL CITY

Basso 6

Orr 6

Carey 6

Fontaine 6

McAllister 6

Sproule 6

Johnson 6

Skuse 7

McIndoe 7

Williams 7

Adebola 8

SUBSTITUTES

Gunnarsson (Harper) 6,

Matejovsky (Cisse) 6,

N Hunt (Pearce) 5.

John (Adebola) 6,

Murray (Sproule) 5,

Iriekpen (Skuse) 5.

MANAGERS

6 S COPPELL G JOHNSON 8

MAN OF THE MATCH

8

DELE ADEBOLA

Crucial opening strike on return.

REFEREE: A Penn 6

CAPTION(S):

COLE FIRED: Skuse after his clincher; DELE TAKEAWAY: Adebola gets in front of Reading's Michael Duberry to plant the Bristol City opener beyond the clutches of Adam Federici
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 22, 2009
Words:577
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