A ruthless Fulham outfit earned a comprehensive win over a Reading team well beaten on a dismal evening at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
Althought the Royals began positively but Dejan Tetek needed to complete some smart early work at right-back to thwart the jinking run of Kebano with five minutes on the clock. Before the corner could be taken, Scott Dann needed treatment and Reading’s luck with injuries continued – Dann was replaced by Camara and Laurent reverted to centre-back.
And a mistake by Laurent presented the visitors with the opening goal. Trying a pass across his own box, he misjudged it and Wilson stole in and, under no pressure, he passed the loose ball beyond the dive of Southwood for 1-0.
Reading looked to respond and Carroll flicked on a cross from the left and it glanced on to Camara. He chested it down but couldn’t find the space to pull the trigger before he was barged off the ball and Fulham cleared their lines.
Carroll then did well win possession in the air, bring it down and sweep the ball out to Bristow on the left. His cross was too close to Rodak though.
But Wilson could have made it 2-0 when he latched onto a ball in behind and Bristow committed himself but didn’t win the ball. Bearing down on goal, Holmes did enough to hurry the midfielder’s shot and he stabbed his effort wide of Southwood but also wide of the bottom left corner.
The Royals were so, so close to an equaliser soon after. Hoilett ran onto a flick to burst down the left and his low cross fell for Camara. It was behind the youngster who cleverly tried a backheel at goal and it took a wonderful right-handed save from Rodak low to his right to push it wide.
As we neared half an hour, Carroll strode onto a ball down the left side of the box and was tripped by the leg of Adarabioyo. Appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Tony Harrington.
Carroll had the net rippling minutes later, scissor kicking Hoilett’s well-delivered cross past Rodak – but the offside flag cut celebrations short.
A much tighter offside decision denied Carroll arguably an even more spectacular goal seconds later. He chested the ball down and hammered a superb left-footed volley into the top left corner – with Rodak routed to the spot. But again the offside flag was raised to Carroll’s incredulity.
Southwood did well to waft a Mitrovic chip over his crossbar as the Serbian striker looked to add to the Cottagers’ lead from the right side of the area before the break. Adarabioyo nodded harmlessly over from the corner.
Wilson was posing the biggest threat for Fulham and Southwood got down well to halt another good run into the Royals box, winning a goal kick by blocking his toe poke against Wilson and behind.
And Wilson in first half injury time, Wilson earned a penalty which would hand the visitors total control of the game. Holmes was clumsy in a challenge on the midfielder as he looked to get to the ball before it crossed the byline, but after a long wait the referee made the decision to point to the penalty spot. Southwood went the right way, but couldn’t keep out Mitrovic’s low spotkick.
The first opportunity of the second half again came through Wilson who sprung the offside trap to scurry away from Bristow and into the Reading box. Bristow did well to get back at him and toe the ball behind for a corner.
And when Mitrovic’s shot on the turn deflected off a Reading defender, it kindly fell for Wilson who rippled the side netting to the Royals’ relief.
Hoilett and Dele-Bashiru combined down the left soon after and the latter crossed into the box. It floated over the full-back’s head and landed at the feet of Camara, but he couldn’t get a shot away.
Fulham’s offside trap denied Swift a run at goal as he scuttled onto a direct ball over the top of the Cottagers’ defence.
But Fulham had a third on the hour – passing the ball about well and waiting for the opportunity to pass the ball centrally for Wilson to arrive and pass it home from close range.
The game was beyond the Royals when George Puscas was brought off the bench to replace Drinkwater. But it took a brilliant tackle from Rinomhota to deny Kebano a fourth. Soon after Kebano was denied by a Southwood save, guarding his near post to ensure the Fulham man’s shot didn’t creep inside the corner.
It was 4-0 moments later though. A corner on the right was delivered and Mitrovic thundered a header goalwards. It ricocheted off the Tete and high into the back of the net.
Fulham wanted more and got it. Wilson was found in acres of space on the right and crossed low into the middle where Kebano slid in to make it 5-0.
And it was six with 15 minutes left to play. A corner from the right was met by the head of Adarabioyo and it flew past Carroll on the line and into the back of the net.
A dejected Reading looked well beaten and the Cottagers were rampant. De Cordova-Reid came off the bench and nodded a near post header goalwards, but Southwood tipped it over. At the other end a rare counter attack through Puscas was again stopped in its tracks by the offside flag.
Mitrovic added a seventh towards the end, pouncing on a rebound from a Southwood save to pass into an empty net and rub salt into Reading’s wounds.
A night to forget.