Reading held off Middlesbrough to record a fifth successive victory in the Championship and maintain their push for automatic promotion.

Noel Hunt scored from close range in the 17th minute while Ian Harte curled a 25-yard free-kick into the top corner late on as Reading climbed to third.

In between, Rhys Williams tested Royals keeper Adam Federici with a looping header while Julio Arca fired over.

Federici then kept out two efforts from Lukas Jutkiewicz before Harte's strike.

Reading's goals bookended a game that saw Middlesbrough enjoy large spells of possession.

Republic of Ireland striker Hunt poached the first from six yards after Alex Pearce nodded a Harte cross back across goal into his path.

Boro created little in the first half but, after the interval, Williams worked Federici with a looping header and 25-yard effort, to give the home fans hope.

Reading came close to doubling their advantage but Jason Steele's outstretched boot denied striker Jason Roberts a fourth goal in five games following his January move from Blackburn.

Jutkiewicz then had two chances in as many minutes to draw his side level but the striker shot straight at Federici before bringing the best out of the Australian keeper with a header.

Harte eventually sealed the win with a trademark free-kick and the Royals were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the final minute when Jobi McAnuff appeared to be pulled down in the penalty box.

Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray: "We didn't quite have the guile to break them down today.

"We had a lot of the ball and we played a lot of the game in their half but we need to be cuter and a bit more clever to make the most of our opportunities in and around the box.

"We are disappointed because we knew with the way the table stood we had a great opportunity and it is frustrating that we couldn't take it."

Reading manager Brian McDermott: "It was hard work today because Boro are a good team and we probably didn't make our first pass count as much as we would have liked.

"And it was a relief to get the second goal when we did because they were having a lot of the ball at that point.

"We are up to third now but we aren't getting carried away. After six games we were bottom of the league and we didn't get carried away about that too much either.

"There's still a long way to go yet."

Lineup, Bookings (1) & Substitutions (2)

Middlesbrough

  • 01 Steele
  • 02 Hoyte
  • 03 Bennett
  • 04 Bates
  • 15 Hines Booked
  • 14 Williams
  • 17 Robson
  • 18 Arca
  • 09 Emnes (Ogbeche - 82' )
  • 30 Jutkiew'z
  • 38 Haroun (Main - 59' )

Substitutes

  • 29 McMahon
  • 22 Martin
  • 33 Smallwood
  • 16 Ogbeche
  • 25 Main

Reading

  • 01 Federici
  • 03 Connolly
  • 05 Pearce
  • 17 Gorkss
  • 23 Harte
  • 04 Karacan
  • 08 Leigertwood
  • 11 McAnuff
  • 14 Kebe
  • 10 Hunt
  • 33 Roberts

Substitutes

  • 31 Andersen
  • 07 Tabb
  • 19 Robson-Kanu
  • 09 Le Fondre
  • 18 Church
Ref: Attwell
Att: 17,314

Match Stats

Shots

12 10

On target

7 6

Corners

5 4

Fouls

11 12

Live Text Commentary

93:26 Full time

Full Time The match has reached full-time.

90:00 +1:54

Free kick awarded for a foul by Noel Hunt on Joe Bennett. Jason Steele restarts play with the free kick.

90:00 +0:09

Rhys Williams concedes a free kick for a foul on Jimmy Kebe. Matthew Connolly restarts play with the free kick.

86:38

Noel Hunt takes a shot. Rhys Williams gets a block in. Corner taken short by Jimmy Kebe.

86:16

Unfair challenge on Noel Hunt by Joe Bennett results in a free kick. Mikele Leigertwood takes the free kick.

85:30

Unfair challenge on Joe Bennett by Noel Hunt results in a free kick. Julio Arca restarts play with the free kick.

83:45

Julio Arca takes a shot. Blocked by Jem Karacan. Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Barry Robson from the left by-line, Kaspars Gorkss manages to make a clearance.

82:21

Jason Roberts is ruled offside. Jason Steele takes the direct free kick.

81:18

Adam Federici takes the free kick.

81:18 Substitution

Substitution Bart Ogbeche comes on in place of Marvin Emnes.

81:18

Foul by Joe Bennett on Jimmy Kebe, free kick awarded.

79:43 Goal scored

Goal! - Ian Harte - Middlesbro 0 - 2 Reading Free kick scored by Ian Harte from outside the penalty area to the top left corner of the goal. Middlesbrough 0-2 Reading.

78:55 Booking

Booking Seb Hines is booked.

78:48

Free kick awarded for a foul by Seb Hines on Jason Roberts.

78:23

Barry Robson crosses the ball, Alex Pearce manages to make a clearance.

76:07

A cross is delivered by Julio Arca, clearance by Ian Harte.

75:19

Mikele Leigertwood concedes a free kick for a foul on Marvin Emnes. Free kick taken by Marvin Emnes.

74:02

Jobi McAnuff produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the target.

72:37

Barry Robson takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.

71:50

Justin Hoyte delivers the ball.

71:14

The assistant referee flags for offside against Noel Hunt. Indirect free kick taken by Jason Steele.

70:17

Rhys Williams produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the net.

70:06

Marvin Emnes delivers the ball, Kaspars Gorkss manages to make a clearance.

68:22

Jason Roberts concedes a free kick for a foul on Rhys Williams. Direct free kick taken by Rhys Williams.

66:49

Mikele Leigertwood gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Rhys Williams. Shot comes in from Barry Robson from the free kick.

64:15

The referee gives a free kick against Rhys Williams for handball. Adam Federici restarts play with the free kick.

62:32

Jimmy Kebe sends in a cross, clearance by Seb Hines.

59:11

Barry Robson crosses the ball, Lukas Jutkiewicz takes a shot. Save made by Adam Federici.

58:11 Substitution

Substitution Faris Haroun leaves the field to be replaced by Curtis Main.

57:46

Lukas Jutkiewicz takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.

57:35

The ball is delivered by Joe Bennett, Matthew Connolly makes a clearance.

57:19

Jason Roberts takes a shot. Save by Jason Steele.

56:28

Rhys Williams takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.

56:09

Jason Roberts challenges Rhys Williams unfairly and gives away a free kick. Rhys Williams takes the direct free kick.

55:11

Effort from just outside the area by Julio Arca goes over the bar.

54:40

Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Barry Robson from the left by-line, clearance by Alex Pearce.

51:37

Ian Harte takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Seb Hines. Free kick awarded for a foul by Kaspars Gorkss on Rhys Williams. Jason Steele takes the direct free kick.

50:34

Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Barry Robson, Rhys Williams takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.

50:28

A cross is delivered by Julio Arca, clearance by Jimmy Kebe.

48:09

Free kick awarded for a foul by Julio Arca on Mikele Leigertwood. Ian Harte restarts play with the free kick.

46:55

Julio Arca crosses the ball, Adam Federici manages to make a clearance.

45:01

The referee gets the second half underway.

45:00 +1:16 Half time

Half Time The first half comes to an end.

44:35

Julio Arca has a shot on goal from outside the area which misses left.

44:23

The ball is delivered by Barry Robson, Alex Pearce manages to make a clearance.

44:12

Joe Bennett delivers the ball, Adam Federici makes a save.

42:44

Jobi McAnuff delivers the ball, Jason Roberts takes a shot. Julio Arca gets a block in.

41:20

A cross is delivered by Barry Robson, Kaspars Gorkss makes a clearance.

39:44

The ball is sent over by Joe Bennett.

39:22

Justin Hoyte produces a cross, clearance by Mikele Leigertwood.

38:30

Joe Bennett crosses the ball.

37:12

Effort from outside the penalty box by Marvin Emnes goes wide right of the goal.

36:40

Alex Pearce challenges Lukas Jutkiewicz unfairly and gives away a free kick. Marvin Emnes takes the free kick.

36:21

Joe Bennett crosses the ball, Alex Pearce makes a clearance.

31:48

Free kick awarded for a foul by Matthew Bates on Noel Hunt. Ian Harte produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick, Joe Bennett gets a block in. Ian Harte decides to take the corner short, Matthew Bates makes a clearance.

31:04

The ball is sent over by Justin Hoyte, Adam Federici makes a save.

29:21

Barry Robson takes a corner.

29:04

Joe Bennett crosses the ball, Lukas Jutkiewicz takes a shot. Alex Pearce gets a block in.

27:54

The ball is sent over by Marvin Emnes.

25:55

Julio Arca challenges Jimmy Kebe unfairly and gives away a free kick. Adam Federici restarts play with the free kick.

25:44

Joe Bennett produces a cross, Alex Pearce manages to make a clearance.

24:16

Rhys Williams challenges Noel Hunt unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Adam Federici.

24:09

Barry Robson produces a cross, Alex Pearce makes a clearance.

23:33

Centre by Justin Hoyte, Alex Pearce makes a clearance.

21:25

Matthew Connolly concedes a free kick for a foul on Marvin Emnes. Julio Arca takes the direct free kick.

20:36

Jobi McAnuff produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the goal.

19:52

Shot from just outside the penalty box by Jobi McAnuff misses to the left of the target.

19:00

Rhys Williams concedes a free kick for a foul on Mikele Leigertwood. Ian Harte takes the free kick.

18:35

Jobi McAnuff takes a shot.

18:28

Jimmy Kebe produces a cross, Rhys Williams manages to make a clearance.

16:38

Assist on the goal came from Alex Pearce.

16:38 Goal scored

Goal! - Noel Hunt - Middlesbro 0 - 1 Reading Noel Hunt grabs a goal from inside the six-yard box to the top right corner of the goal. Middlesbrough 0-1 Reading.

16:35

The ball is sent over by Ian Harte,

15:41

Ian Harte takes a inswinging corner.

15:33

Jobi McAnuff sends in a cross, Joe Bennett makes a clearance.

15:03

The ball is crossed by Noel Hunt, save made by Jason Steele.

13:27

Barry Robson concedes a free kick for a foul on Jobi McAnuff. Ian Harte takes the direct free kick.

12:26

Alex Pearce challenges Lukas Jutkiewicz unfairly and gives away a free kick. Rhys Williams takes the direct free kick.

10:26

Foul by Mikele Leigertwood on Rhys Williams, free kick awarded. Rhys Williams takes the direct free kick. Faris Haroun crosses the ball, clearance made by Kaspars Gorkss. Faris Haroun crosses the ball, Kaspars Gorkss makes a clearance.

9:27

Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Barry Robson, clearance made by Mikele Leigertwood.

9:20

The ball is delivered by Justin Hoyte, clearance by Matthew Connolly.

6:31

The official flags Faris Haroun offside. Adam Federici restarts play with the free kick.

5:42

The assistant referee flags for offside against Jason Roberts. Direct free kick taken by Matthew Bates.

5:05

Kaspars Gorkss fouled by Lukas Jutkiewicz, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Adam Federici.

4:19

Centre by Joe Bennett, clearance made by Ian Harte.

2:39

Barry Robson fouled by Mikele Leigertwood, the ref awards a free kick. Barry Robson takes the free kick.

2:13

Lukas Jutkiewicz delivers the ball, clearance by Jobi McAnuff.

0:00

The referee gets the game underway.

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