The Belgian international was a constant threat to the Royals and fully justified his selection by Steve Clarke, scoring with 19 minutes remaining to preserve Albion’s unbeaten start to the season. Defeat leaves Brian McDermott and his side propping up the rest of the Premier League with just a solitary point to show for their efforts although they deserved a share of the spoils on this occasion.
Clarke’s decision to promote Lukaku to the starting lineup ahead of former Reading striker Shane Long certainly raised eyebrows before kick off but the 19-year-old Chelsea loanee proved to be a constant thorn in the visitors side all afternoon. Kaspars Gorkss was at a loss to deal with the teenager as he skipped past the Royal’s defender and drilled a low ball across the penalty area that was dealt with well by Danny Guthrie.
Chris Brunt then brought a fine save out of Alex McCarthy with a fierce 25-yard drive before Ben Foster was called into action at the other end to comfortably gather Gareth McCleary’s well struck overhead kick. Lukaku continued to threaten and was only denied the opening goal by the fingertips of McCarthy after his floated cross looked to be dropping in at the far post.
Chances continued to come and go for Albion with James Morrison scuffing wide after exchanging passes with Zoltan Gera while McCarthy had to be alert to push away his dipping volley after the break. Long was the introduced just after the hour and set up the opening goal six minutes later, nodding Graeme Dorran’s cross down for Lukaku to drive the ball past McCarthy.