Ruben Selles praised Reading’s character after they moved nine points clear of the League One relegation zone thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium.

Selles was all smiles after striker Sam Smith put the visitors in command after eight minutes with a close-range header before Lewis Wing doubled the lead just before half-time with a stunning 25-yard free-kick.

“It takes a lot of character to win in the circumstances where we are fighting against relegation,” Selles said.

“We did a really good job to get the three points and we hope that with this result and the coming performances we will have done enough to stay in the league.

“But I think this season for Reading is never done until the final whistle – and maybe after that – but we can only control what happens on the pitch until then.

“We are just thinking about getting as many points as possible because we never know what might happen, but hopefully nothing else will happen with processes.”

Selles added: “We have been talking about how the team has been growing and maturing and today we did the job in the first half and then you could not expect us to dominate for the 100 minutes.

“They had good players to send on at half-time and they made it difficult for us over a period of 15-20 minutes but after that we regained control and we finished strongly.

“We enjoyed the victory and we enjoyed celebrating with our fans because we go all in and they enjoy that.

“Sometimes we don’t get what we want and sometimes we do but there is no doubt we go all in every single time we play.

“The way we do things is exciting for the fans and the way we play is good for the fans and the way we have connected is great.”

While Reading fans celebrated victory, Rovers fans booed their side at the final whistle following a record-extending seventh game without a goal

Manager Matt Taylor said he understood their frustration but asked for the poor run to be seen in context.

“It is understandable because they don’t like what they see at the moment but they are not alone in that,” Taylor said.

“As the manager I have to find a way to make the team function better than we did tonight.

“Moments in the game just dictate everything and certainly the weakness within us to concede that first goal in the manner we did is so frustrating.

“And then they were on top of us because they understand the situation and they don’t like what they see.

“But there is a deeper story. We all know the elephant in the room as regards where players are going to be towards next season.

“But there are still four games left this season so there is enough to play for to show their pride because the supporters want to see fight and endeavour.

“They probably saw that at the start of the second half, which is close to what I want to see out on the pitch, but they didn’t like the way it derailed towards the end.”

Bristol Rovers were booed off by their own fans as Reading eased their own relegation worries with a 2-0 win at the Memorial Stadium.

First-half goals from Sam Smith and Lewis Wing were enough to secure victory as Rovers stretched their record-breaking run of games without a goal to seven.

Smith put Reading on course for an ultimately comfortable victory in the eighth minute with his 13th goal of the season.

His close-range header beat Jed Ward’s despairing dive after Tyler Bindon flicked on Amadou Mbengue’s long throw.

Ward denied Harvey Knibbs with a fine save before Wing doubled the advantage on the stroke of half-time when his 25-yard free-kick found the top left-hand corner.

Rovers boss Matt Taylor saw his team raise their game after the break as veteran striker Chris Martin and winger Scott Sinclair joined the fray.

Substitute Brandon Aguilera went close for the hosts but was denied by goalkeeper Joel Pereira as Reading banished any lingering relegation worries.

Play-off chasing Lincoln extended their unbeaten League One run to 16 matches but had to settle for a hard-earned 1-1 draw at lowly Reading.

Tyler Bindon salvaged a point for the Royals with seven minutes remaining after Freddie Draper had given the visitors, now two points off the play-off places, the lead.

Reading had the better of an entertaining first half but Lincoln goalkeeper Lukas Jensen was rarely troubled.

Home striker Sam Smith created the game’s first opening, with a clever cross from the byline, but Ben Elliott skewed his shot wide at the near post.

In an even opening, Lincoln replied when Teddy Bishop scooped narrowly over the crossbar from a Lasse Sorensen centre.

Reading could have gone ahead approaching the interval only for desperate Lincoln defending to block close-range efforts from Femi Azeez and Paul Mukairu.

Azeez could have given Reading a second-half lead but curled over after a fine solo run.

Lincoln sat back for much of the second half but were rewarded in the 72nd minute when, on a rare break, substitute Draper nodded home.

But Reading deservedly levelled when Lewis Wing swung in a corner and defender Bindon nodded in from inside the six-yard box.

Reading manager Ruben Selles praised the strong character of his players for brushing aside the club’s off-field worries to secure a vital 4-0 League One victory over Cambridge.

Goals from Sam Smith and Femi Azeez gave Reading, who are still beset by constant cash-flow problems, a commanding half-time lead and they cruised past Cambridge after the break with further efforts from Lewis Wing and Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan.

“It was really important for me to see the character of the team as the week has been another difficult one for us,” Selles said.

“The boys have been working really hard to get that kind of performance and to get those goals.

“We focused on the task in hand and it is good to find a group of players who want to compete for each other in that way.

“I’m very proud of what they did today.

“We were very ruthless in the final third, very ruthless in what we did. I would like to see that more often.

“It’s not myself who kept the players focused. I think they learnt themselves to keep focused as individuals and as a team.

“It was a great expression of the character of the dressing room. The team is alive, it means that it has that life inside.

“It makes them really difficult to beat and they showed that. So it’s not down to me, it’s absolutely them.”

Struggling Cambridge, with new head coach Garry Monk three matches into his reign, lost heavily to Reading after a previous 6-0 defeat at Lincoln on Tuesday.

“It’s been a difficult week,” said Monk. “But I’m not going to lose any belief in the squad.

“It’s been a difficult two games that we’ve had but I’ve seen enough in the players, the ability is there.

“But it’s been a symptom of these two games. We started this one well enough and with a bit of momentum.

“But it seems that every time we get that bit of momentum, we kind of shoot ourselves in the foot.

“The first two goals were similar to Tuesday (against Lincoln). They were just poor goals, just individual errors, whether that’s down to concentration or decision-making.

“And it leads straight to a goal. Unfortunately, that’s what happened on Tuesday and that’s what happened today.

“There were quite a few large spells in the game overall when we were quite competent with the ball and were doing OK.

“But we come out in the second half, again gain momentum, but not taking our opportunities is then compounded by Reading’s last two goals.

“And then you’re out of the game.”

Financially-troubled Reading put aside their off-field worries with a 4-0 home win over fellow League One strugglers Cambridge.

In a scrappy first half, Reading opened up a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from striker Sam Smith – his 12th of the season – and winger Femi Azeez.

Well-struck second-half efforts from Lewis Wing and Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan secured the comprehensive victory.

Reading, still beset by constant cash-flow problems under owner Dai Yongge, began slowly against Cambridge.

United defender Michael Morrison found space and nodded narrowly wide early on from a Liam Bennett cross.

But Royals went ahead when Cambridge’s James Gibbons made a hash of an intended clearance from a Harvey Knibbs cross and Smith pounced for his fifth goal in as many games.

Reading increased their advantage in the second minute of first-half stoppage time when Azeez ran through unchallenged on a quick break and beat keeper Jack Stevens with a fierce near-post shot.

Cambridge could have halved the gap soon after the interval, with home keeper Joel Pereira making a superb double save to deny Elias Kachunga from close range.

Pereira’s heroics proved crucial, with Wing effectively making the game safe for Royals when firing over United’s substitute keeper Will Mannion in the 62nd minute.

Ehibhatiomhan struck with five minutes left, lashing past Mannion from the edge of the area for his 10th goal of the campaign.

Dwight Gayle scored his third goal in as many games to help Derby beat Reading 2-1.

Sam Smith cancelled out Gayle’s opener but Royals skipper Andy Yiadom was sent off before a Conor Hourihane penalty clinched victory.

Derby started strongly and it needed a great save from Joel Pereira to keep out a Joe Ward free-kick in the 11th minute.

Reading grew into the game but Derby twice went close with Pereira making another fine stop to deny Tom Barkhuizen in the 31st minute before Eiran Cashin headed a free-kick against a post two minutes later.

The game burst into life early in the second half with both sides trading goals before Reading were reduced to 10 men.

Gayle latched onto Ward’s pass to put Derby ahead in the 53rd minute, only for Smith to head in Yiadom’s cross three minutes later.

Yiadom was shown a second yellow card in the 59th minute for a foul on Hourihane, who restored Derby’s lead from the spot in the 70th minute after Pereira caught Gayle.

Reading manager Ruben Selles called on his side to rediscover that “extra percentage” after they failed to capitalise on their second-half dominance in the 2-1 defeat at home to Wycombe.

Wanderers went ahead early on through a superb overhead kick from on-loan defender Nigel Lonwijk but Reading equalised with 16 minutes left thanks to Sam Smith’s 10th goal of the season.

However, the visitors then clinched a dramatic 88th-minute victory when Beryly Lubala netted a penalty after Clinton Mola had clumsily fouled Chem Campbell in the home area.

“We are creating and putting ourselves in situations to score,” Selles said. “But we need to find that extra percentage at the end to make the chances count, to make the goals.

“We were not near to being ourselves in the first half. We suffered in certain situations that we should not have suffered.

“We were disconnected in some of those moments, but in the second half we were the team who wanted to do things. We were the best team on the pitch.

“Sometimes that happens in football, when you don’t play well for all of the 90 or 100 minutes, but we were able to come back, to get it to 1-1. And then from one of Wycombe’s few attacks in the second half, it came down to that penalty that we could have easily avoided.

”The atmosphere was fantastic, the crowd was with us even though we were not at our best in the first half.

“In the second half, you could feel it every time we were approaching the goal and when we scored. The environment was really good.”

Wycombe picked up their second win in six league matches, much to the delight of manager Matt Bloomfield.

“I thought that we were absolutely excellent in the first half. Maybe as good as we have been in my tenure here for 45 minutes. We were very good,” he said.

“We could have been further ahead and I was slightly disappointed at half-time that we weren’t.

“It was never going to be the same in the second half and Reading used their athleticism a lot once the game had spaced out.

“They used that incredibly well, we knew that they are a good team.

“We had to dig in at times but we then managed to find a special moment at the end [Lubala’s penalty]. That was incredibly pleasing.

“It was disappointing to give their goal away from a set-piece situation and we knew then that we had to transition into more of a low block.

“It was a case of protecting the space behind us. The athleticism that Reading have was causing us issues.

“As well as a growing team, I want us to be a winning team.”

Ruben Selles hailed his goalscorers after Reading beat basement boys Carlisle 3-1 in Sky Bet League One.

Sam Smith, who earlier hit a post, opened the scoring before Harvey Knibbs’ double at Brunton Park.

Playmaker Knibbs bagged a brace in the corresponding fixture when the Royals hammered the struggling Cumbrians 5-1.

For Knibbs it was his 14th and 15th goals of a fruitful campaign.

Jon Mellish’s second-half header was in vain as Paul Simpson’s side slumped to a ninth loss in 10.

Selles said: “I always think the strikers, when they play for my teams, they have a lot of jobs to do – the first is to score goals of course.

“Sam missed the first one by an inch when he hit the post then he scored. We’re happy with his performance and he needs to keep working like that.

“He (Knibbs) just needs to continue doing what he’s doing.

“It all depends on where he wants to go. The team is putting him in positions to score goals and to lead assists.

“It’s about him continuing to perform well and working hard.

“Hopefully in the next 10 games he can score more goals and get more assists.”

Relegation-threatened Carlisle were once again outclassed and boss Simpson admitted his side struggled to cope with the Royals.

He said: “I agree, they’re a very good side. I knew they were a good side. I tried to play them down a little bit on Thursday, but I expected it to be a tough game.

“The pace that they had and the way they’re able to play, they’re as good a side I’ve seen here this season.

“We struggled. We struggled against the pace. We had to change the pace and try to sure it up. When you do that, it opens up areas where they can exploit you.

“The massive thing I’ve seen at League One level is the athleticism of the opposition we’re coming up against. We can only aspire to bring that type of player into the football club because that’s where we’ve fallen short this season.

“They’re strong, they’re quick. Yiadom, Wing, Azeez, they’re good footballers. I said before the game that I felt for the players, staff and fans for what’s happening at the club.

“But if they keep that group of players together they’ll be a real threat next season.”

Harvey Knibbs was at the double as Reading fired themselves five points clear of the Sky Bet League One relegation zone with a fine 3-1 victory at basement boys Carlisle.

Playmaker Knibbs bagged a brace in the 5-1 drubbing when the the two sides met back in November.

And he repeated the trick with goals in neither half after Sam Smith put the visitors ahead at Brunton Park.

The Royals went close to an opener when Knibbs slipped Smith, whose effort hit a post, through on goal.

But the visitors hit the front moments later as Smith coolly slotted beyond on-rushing Harry Lewis in the 17th minute.

Captain Andy Yiadom unlocked the door for the second as he raced to the byline and cut back for Knibbs to tap home 10 minutes before half-time.

And dangerman Knibbs doubled his tally 12 minutes after the restart as he pounced on a teasing Femi Azeez cross for the third.

Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan almost had a fourth when his strike was tipped over by Lewis.

Jon Mellish pulled one back as he headed home Jordan Gibson’s cross with 20 minutes to go.

But it was a mere consolation as Paul Simpson’s crumbling Cumbrians slumped to a ninth defeat in 10.

New Charlton manager Nathan Jones admitted he “learnt a lot” about his team as his first match in charge ended in a 2-0 defeat at fellow-strugglers Reading.

The Addicks were grateful to goalkeeper Harry Isted for keeping them in the game in the first half with fine saves to deny Lewis Wing and Sam Smith twice.

But Isted was finally beaten by Femi Azeez from close range in the 66th minute, with the same player then thundering home a volley 10 minutes later to secure the points. Both finishes followed Amadou Mbengue long throws.

Charlton have now failed to win in 13 league matches and Jones knows his players must do better on the pitch.

“Look, I learnt a lot,” said Jones, who had not managed since being sacked by Southampton last February.

“We didn’t do the basics well enough on a few occasions. The players gave me everything but we’ll take something from it and make sure that we improve in the future.

“On the pitch, it’s the only place that you get to learn. On the training ground, it’s a bit of a controlled environment. That’s when they train with each other, they’re not out of their comfort zone.

“When we take them out of their comfort zone, you learn quite a lot and we have today. But we have to be better in terms of what we did and we can take it from there.

“If you can do the basics well, you will win football games. But we’re not doing the basics well enough, so that has to improve.

“We were undone today from two long throws. We can’t keep not winning a game, that’s the frustrating thing.”

Reading have lost only two of their last 15 league games and now sit three places above the bottom three.

“It’s always a difficult game when the other team has just changed its manager during the week,” Reading boss Ruben Seles, who worked with Jones at Southampton, said.

“We knew the characteristics of Nathan but you’re never sure whether it’s going to go that way or he will change it a little bit.

“We expected a 5-3-2 from Charlton and maybe to be aggressive on the front foot and put the right balls into space.

“It took us a long time to set up the game, to get the ball down and play in possession. But after that, I think that the team was powerful. We knew what we wanted to do and then in the entire game, we were on top.

“With Amadou’s long throws, we have added another weapon to our game. That is why we are using it. If we cannot score in open play or in the other situations, then we have the long throws.

“We also had a couple of good corners and free-kicks when we were dangerous as well. Our team is growing and developing at set-plays.”

Reading gave their League One survival chances a boost with a 1-0 victory at home to promotion-chasing Derby.

The hosts, who were given a suspended three-point deduction for the abandonment of their Port Vale fixture, had the first chance after 16 minutes. Andy Yiadom turned and shot in the box but saw his effort come off the post and into the arms of goalkeeper Josh Vickers.

Sam Smith flicked a header from a corner just over, while Derby almost took the lead with six minutes of the half remaining, as a Conor Hourihane strike hit the upright.

Reading took the lead nine minutes in the second half. A Femi Azeez shot found the post, but the ball fell kindly to Paul Mukairu, who finished with precision.

The goal gave the hosts confidence, although Tyreece John-Jules should have done better with a header – 64 minutes in – after putting it wide.

Derby struggled to make much headway on the Reading goal after going behind and the Berkshire side held on for a vital three points.

Proud Reading boss Ruben Selles saluted his team’s spirit and progress after they pocketed a precious point at promotion-chasing Peterborough.

The struggling Royals twice battled back from behind to share the spoils with the League One top-scorers, as goals from Sam Smith and Femi Azeez cancelled out efforts from Josh Knight and Ephron Mason-Clark.

Reading remain in the bottom four of League One, but Selles said: “The point is good for us, but the performance we produced and knowing we can compete in this type of game is even better.

“Peterborough are one of the best opponents in the division and getting a result here is very difficult, so I’m proud of my team.

“We had some problems as it was a new team with a lot of new characters. It took a little bit of time for us to find the connection but I think they have found it now. For me it is a pleasure to work with these players.

“The target is to be a team that is difficult to beat, that want to play together, that want to fight together and want to do great things which we showed today.

“Femi has become a very important player for us. He can make the difference with the assist and the goal, but he is also a big part of what we do defensively.”

Reading fell behind to Knight’s header six minutes before the break and were fortunate not to concede two penalties in the opening half.

Second-placed Posh then saw a Hector Kyprianou strike ruled out for offside just before substitute Smith squeezed in a 63rd-minute equaliser.

Azeez hit a post before Mason-Clark again put Reading on the ropes by restoring Posh’s lead in the 69th minute.

But the visitors refused to roll over as Azeez levelled with five minutes to go to secure just their fifth away point.

Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson said: “I’m disappointed not to win a game that I felt we deserved to win.

“We twice led in the game, we had 20 shots and 16 corners, but the one thing we couldn’t do was get ourselves into a two-goal lead.

“I think we should have had penalties and I’m told Hector was onside when he scored, but what can you do? Everyone makes mistakes.

“Our response to conceding a goal was fantastic to go and get 2-1 up, but we just couldn’t kill the game off and ended up giving away a sloppy goal late on.

“There are going to be plenty of dropped points – especially over this period – but we’re on a really good run and we keep going.

“Reading are a good team and the manager is doing a good job. I don’t know why they are where they are.

“I knew it would be a very tough game and that proved to be the case.”

New Oxford head coach Des Buckingham is not concerned that, after the 1-1 draw at local rivals Reading, he has now failed in four attempts to gain his first League One victory.

Both goals came shortly before the interval, with defender Ciaron Brown giving Oxford the lead in the 39th minute with a stooping header – only for former United loanee Sam Smith to equalise four minutes later.

Buckingham, who replaced the departed Liam Manning last month, said: “I’ve only been here [at the club] for a few weeks.

“We’ve played two of the top teams in Peterborough and Bolton and I’ve really had only about three training sessions with the group.

“That’s all I’ve had…and that’s not passing the buck there!

“And tonight, we’ve got a good result with a very different team. So it’s not really a concern to me right now.

“I think that we’ll come good, it just needs a bit of time.

“It was a good derby game but we were missing a good few key players so we had to make some changes tonight, a lot of them enforced.

“I changed a few things that we’ve done in the last two weeks and I thought that we deserved to win the game.

“At the end, we just couldn’t convert the chances, but we’ll take a point.”

Oxford had close to 3,000 fans at the SCL Stadium.

Buckingham added: “We had unbelievable support. We know they travel in their numbers but it’s a derby and it has been a long time since this one has been on the cards.

“They were absolutely wonderful tonight. It was a really good, strong atmosphere.”

Reading are now four points off safety near the foot of the table.

“A point is a point and we will take it,” Ruben Selles, the Reading manager, said.

“It was a competitive game and, at times, we showed that we could control it and we could score. We also defended well.

“We came back from 1-0 down and then at the end, especially from a couple of set-plays, we would have lost the game three or four weeks ago.

“But the team is in a good moment and in a good spirit. I was also very happy with the effort we put in.

“So I will happily take that point and we move forward.

“We started the game well, we had the ball and we made the right decisions so that we created certain situations.

“We have no depth yet when we can dominate for 95 or 100 minutes.

“But the good thing about the second half was that we managed to stay in the game.

“We had to adapt and adjust and we did not concede another goal. This is all part of the game.”

New Oxford boss Des Buckingham is still awaiting his first League One victory after four matches following a 1-1 draw at local rivals Reading.

Most of the first-half action was squeezed into a four-minute spell shortly before the interval, with Oxford going in front from a Ciaron Brown header and Sam Smith soon levelling for the hosts.

The second period proved high on endeavour yet low on quality, with neither team able to find a winner.

In the first league meeting between the clubs since April 2001, an even and quiet opening gave way to a dramatic end to the half.

Full-back Brown nodded play-off chasers Oxford in front from a Stanley Mills cross in the 39th minute, much to the delight of their near-3,000 travelling fans.

But Reading were back level in the 43rd minute, former United loanee Smith latching on to a fine Lewis Wing pass to coolly beat keeper James Beadle.

Oxford dominated most of the second period but without unduly troubling the home defence or keeper David Button, though Josh Murphy drilled narrowly wide in stoppage time.

Reading offered little going forward, apart from weak efforts from Femi Azeez and Charlie Savage that were saved by Beadle, and the game petered out into a tame draw.

Ruben Selles saluted the loyal Royals who stuck by his side after Reading ended a 378-day wait for an away league win with a 2-1 triumph at Wycombe.

Former Chairboy Lewis Wing scored the winning goal four minutes before half-time after Killian Phillips had cancelled out Sam Smith’s opener.

The under-fire boss believes his side were deserving of the three points and looked forward to brighter days after cutting the gap to League One safety.

“I know the fans have been suffering during the entire season for a lot of different reasons, one of them being us not being able to win as much away,” said Selles.

“I’m happy for them. They have always been supportive of the boys. It’s always a pleasure to have that amount of fans away from home, get a victory away from home and for the boys to celebrate together.

“We were the best team on the pitch for 100 minutes. The team is growing and I’m very proud of the players and how they played the game.”

The league’s bottom side fielded Nelson Abbey, 20, and Tyler Bindon, 18, at the heart of their defence, with full-back Andy Yiadom the only outfield player over the age of 30.

But they acquitted themselves well and saw out a victory which will have banished memories of their last away league fixture – a gut-wrenching late 3-2 defeat against Shrewsbury.

“We have a couple of young centre-backs growing with the games, getting experience with the league and we had a plan from the very beginning,” said Selles.

“We knew after the second goal, if we started to go lower and lower, we would get in trouble. But the team continued applying the pressure with the high-line.

“We were not defending for 50 minutes. It was a pleasure we could keep a good team like our opponent today away from our goal in the second half.”

Wycombe boss Matt Bloomfield was left to bemoan a growing injury list as his side’s winless league run stretched to six matches.

“It isn’t easy,” said Bloomfield. “We’ve got nine to 10 injuries and some big players are missing.

“It feels like we’re making at least one or two changes regularly due to injury, which is tough, but ultimately we have to be better than what we were.

“Competing for the second balls, running, heading, tackling, those little bits that go into a performance that are actually massive.

“I’ve said many times this season how proud I am of the performance but today wasn’t one of those days.

“We were poor and we have to make sure we’re ready to bounce back on Tuesday evening against Barnsley.”

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