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Harte shines as Reading seal promotion

IAN Harte could be back in the Premier League, 16 years after his debut, after he helped Reading clinch promotion to England's top flight with a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest last night.

Former Ireland international Harte, 34, who signed for the club from League One side Carlisle in 2010, had a hand in the all-important goal at the Madejski Stadium when his 81st-minute cross was volleyed home by Mikele Leigertwood.

Just 12 months after Brian McDermott's side suffered play-off heartbreak at Wembley, last night's final whistle sparked a mass pitch invasion by excited home fans and then an appearance in the directors' box by the Reading players.

A delighted McDermott said: "This is my best moment in football. My worst was on the pitch at Wembley on May 30 (last year's play-off final defeat by Swansea City).

"We are in the Premier League now and I can celebrate for the next two months. Tonight was the most important three points we have got this season because it has seen us over the line. It's really strange. It doesn't seem real at the moment and it doesn't feel as if it is happening to me."

The Royals are set to be joined in securing automatic promotion by Southampton after they were 3-1 winners at Peterborough.



Clear

With third-placed West Ham only managing a 1-1 draw at Bristol City, the Saints are five points clear in second with two games to play.

With their place in the top-flight almost assured, Saints boss Nigel Adkins has called on his side to overtake Reading, who are three points clear, and win the Championship.

"We have two matches left and we want to put six more points on the board. Our aim has always been to be champions and that hasn't changed," Adkins said.

Hammers boss Sam Allardyce conceded his side are set for the play-offs.

"It's difficult.We know we have to ask someone to do us a favour," he said.

Birmingham, Blackpool and Cardiff look set to round out the play-off places after they increased the gap over the chasing pack.


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