Adam Le Fondre came off the bench to bag a brace and complete another stunning comeback for Reading at St. James Park.
Reading completed another remarkable comeback against Newcastle as Adam Le Fondre came off the bench to score two goals to win a game in which Newcastle were the better team for large swathes of play.
Newcastle should have made their breakthrough earlier than they did, but were kept out through a string of superb saves by Adam Federici. In one ten-minute spell, the game appeared to be a duel between the Royals keeper and Papiss Cisse, the latter having three efforts all kept out by superb saves. First a snapped header after a lofted pass from Cabaye was clawed out by Federici, then he managed to hold onto an instinctive volley from the Ivorian. Finally, after Ameobi broke past the Reading defence, the Australian was alert to swoop out to deal with the cross at Cisse's feet.
Federici could not keep the scores level forever, though - Reading had a chance to get a goal themselves after a coutner-attack left the Magpies' defence in disarray, but Pavel Pogrebnyak wasted the opportunity by recklessly sliding onto the loose ball when he had time and options available, only managing to scuff it wide. Not long afterwards, Reading would pay for the mistake when a free-kick outside the area was beautifully curled into the top corner by the best player on the pitch, Yohan Cabaye.
In the second half, Newcastle continued to dominate possession, and Mathieu Debuchy, Davide Santon, Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveuax and Papiss Cisse continued to have productive games, creating a flurry of chances to seek a two-goal cushion. On each occasion though, one of the Reading defenders was usually up to the occasion, with Adrian Mariappa in particular enjoying a fine game, most notably when he produced a superb diving header to deny Marveaux a clear shot on goal following Cisse's cross.
Reading's only chances were limited to counter-attacking, and the pace of Jimmy Kebe was to punish Newcastle for their wastefulness and reward Reading for their determined last-ditch defending - the Malian took the ball down the right before curling in a cross which Adam Le Fondre managed to bundle over the line with his first touch. No protests were made by the home side, although it did appear in replays that he may have pushed the ball over the line with his arm.
Newcastle's support has largely been patient with Alan Pardew throughout their struggles this season, but they displayed one of their biggest signs of discontent after the equaliser as a chorus of boos greeted Gael Bigirimana's introduction at the expense of Yohan Cabaye. Immediately afterwards, they somehow found themselves behind, after Hope Akpan missed the ball completely with an attempted volley and Le Fondre fired home from just inside the penalty area.
After falling behind, Newcastle resumed their assault on the Reading goal with renewed vigour, but could still not find a way through. The closest they came was when Debuchy's cross was flicked on by James Perch to find Papiss Cisse at the back post, but after controlling the ball, perhaps believing he had less time than he had, he met it with a wild left-footed volley which ended up in orbit. Resilient defending from Reading allowed them to hang on for another hugely important victory. Royals fans will have real hope that their team has a chance of avoiding the drop now.