Reading (2) 1-0 (1) Fulham: Kermorgant penalty sends Royals to Wembley

Reading are heading to the play-off final after winning 1-0 against Fulham in The Championship on Tuesday night courtesy of a second-half penalty from Yann Kermorgant.

Reading (2) 1-0 (1) Fulham: Kermorgant penalty sends Royals to Wembley
Yann Kermorgant celebrates putting Reading 1-0 up. (picture: Getty Images / Ben Hoskins)
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Reading: Al Habsi, Ilori, Moore, van den Berg, Gunter, Evans, Williams, Blackett (McCleary, min. 66), Swift (Kelly, min. 75), Kermorgant (Mendes, min. 89), Grabban.
Fulham: Bettinelli, Fredericks, Kalas, Ream, Malone (Martin, min. 73), Cairney, McDonald, Johansen, Kebano (Piazon, min. 58), Aluko, Ayite (Sessegnon, min. 58).
SCORE: 1-0, min. 49, Kermorgant.
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson.
INCIDENTS: The Madejski Stadium. 22,044 Spectators.

Reading are heading to Wembley after beating Fulham 1-0 in their Championship play-off semi-final second leg at The Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night to win the tie 2-1 on aggregate.

It was Yann Kermorgant's second-half penalty which secured Reading's place at Wembley at the end of the month. However, Ali Al-Habsi's contribution at the other end of the pitch was just as important.

Obita ruled out for Royals

Reading fans will have been disappointed when they heard Jaap Stam's starting line-up. Jordan Obita, who scored in Saturday's 1-1 draw in the first leg, was left out after failing to recover from the injury he picked up. Reading had to also replace Paul McShane as he served his suspension with Tiago Llori and Joey van den Berg coming in. 

As for Fulham, Slavisa Jokanovic made just the one change from Saturday's first leg. Neeskens Kebano was selected ahead of Chris Martin with the on-loan Derby County striker having to settle for a place on the bench.

Nothing to separate the two sides

The first big moment of the game came 13 minutes in. Kermorgant's intelligent effort had to be kept out by a superb save from Marcus Bettinelli in the Fulham goal as he palmed it wide. 

Shortly after, Fulham managed to get their first shot on target of the match. Full-back Ryan Fredericks cut inside before seeing his shot kept out low to his left by Al-Habsi. 

The Omani international had to be alert again as he made a double save to ensure his team remained on level terms. Tom Cairney's free-kick was destined for the back of the net but Al-Hasbi was there to palm away before also keeping out Sone Aluko's shot on the rebound. 

Tom Cairney had his free-kick superbly saved by Ali Al-Habsi in the first-half. (picture: Getty Images / Craig Mercer - CameraSport)
Tom Cairney had his free-kick superbly saved by Ali Al-Habsi in the first-half. (picture: Getty Images / Craig Mercer - CameraSport)

Fulham continued to put the Reading defence under considerable pressure throughout the first-half. Floyd Ayite lost his man from a corner but could not find the back of the net as he his shot went wide of the target.

Both teams went into the break after having good spells of possession and chances. However, nothing separated the sides as they went into the dressing room with the game goalless on the night. 

Kermorgant scores vital goal 

It was the Royals who made a blistering start to the second-half. Kermorgant's cross from the right hand side found Lewis Grabban in the centre but his header was safely held by Bettinelli.  

It got even better for the home side just moments later as Fulham defender Tomas Kalas handled in the area which was spotted by referee Martin Atkinson as he awarded a penalty. Kermorgant confidently stepped up and found the bottom corner to make it 1-0 to Reading putting them 2-1 ahead in the tie.

Kermorgant managed to beat Bettinelli from the spot. (picture: Getty Images / Harry Trump)
Kermorgant managed to beat Bettinelli from the spot. (picture: Getty Images / Harry Trump)

It should have been 2-0 five minutes later but John Swift somehow could not find the back of the net from three yards out with the goal gaping as the game started to open up.

Jokanovic decided it was time to make a change with a double substitution on the hour mark. Lucas Piazon and 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon came on in replace of Kebano and Ayite.

Fulham did start to try and muster their way back into the match. Fredericks did very well down the right hand side before cutting it back for Piazon but he could not make an instant impact off the bench as his shot was blocked.

The Cottagers had a superb chance to get themselves back into the game with 15 minutes to go. Aluko did well to beat his man before squaring to Kevin McDonald who saw his effort saved again by Al-Habsi at close range.

Chris Martin had the away side's last big chance of the game but could not divert his header on target as Fulham's season came to a disappointing conclusion with the Cottagers having to settle for another year in The Championship.  

Royals are heading to Wembley

After a superb season, Reading will end the campaign with a trip to Wembley and a huge chance of securing promotion to the Premier League. They were viewed as the underdogs ahead of this tie but managed to deal with Fulham's attacking threat over two legs and ultimately deserved to go through.

As for Fulham, it is despair for Jokanovic's team as they face another year in the second tier. They had the momentum going into the play-offs after a superb end to the campaign but it was ultimately not enough.