Cardiff 3-1 Reading

Cardiff City began the new year in style with an emphatic win over fellow play-off challengers Reading.

Joe Mason struck first, Aron Gunnarsson headed in the second and Kenny Miller toe-poked home for 3-0 on 36 minutes.

Former Bluebird Jobi McAnuff gave the Royals hope with a late first-half effort as he profited from Jimmy Kebe's approach work.

But Reading's record of away defeats in new year fixtures extended to a third successive disappointment.

Victory saw the hosts go third, above Middlesbrough, as they recorded an eighth home win from 12 in the league and consigned the visitors, who remain fifth, to a fifth away defeat.

Joe Ralls took over from Rudy Gestede up front for the hosts while Reading manager Brian McDermott brought in Ian Harte for the injured Andy Griffin, and Adam Le Fondre made way for Noel Hunt.

The hosts took the lead just before the quarter-hour through Mason, who seemed to handle the ball before charging at the heart of the Royals' defence and recovered from a slip before driving the ball into the back of the net.

Peter Whittingham's expertly delivered corner gave Gunnarsson the chance to capitalise on the pressure the hosts had again built.

Then Whittingham, outstanding again, found the time and space to slide a superb ball into Miller, who scored his second goal of the new year period, having hit the winner at Nottingham Forest 48 hours earlier.

But Reading kept the game finely balanced as Kebe's pace took him past Ben Turner to set up McAnuff's strike.

Andrew Taylor spurned one of the second half's best chances, sending the ball straight at goalkeeper Adam Federici.

Gestede, on as a substitute for Mason, then saw Federici produce a brilliant save from his header.

A spectacular Gestede volley from Stephen McPhail's pass also failed to hit home, but Malky Mackay's side ended a goalless second period having been in control for most of the encounter.

Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay:

"Some of the passing, movement and chances in the first half were sublime.

"I'm delighted with the way we played especially on the back of a tough game on Saturday.

"In fact, I thought we grew as the game went on. We want to be as high up the league as we can be.

"But we'll concentrate and focus on ourselves. When you start looking at others then you can take your eye off the ball."

Reading boss Brian McDermott:

"We didn't perform and that is the disappointing thing for me.

"Give credit to Cardiff, who have beaten us twice this season. We have to move on quickly."

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