Ashton ready for Reading

Dean Ashton is expecting West Ham United to "really go at it at home" when they welcome Reading to the Boleyn Ground on Boxing Day.

"It is a concern to us that we are not picking up points when we should be," a buoyant Ashton told WHUTV, mindful the club have won 16 of their 25 points on the road this campaign and that it is now two goals for him from two away games. "The home form should dominate really. We will keep picking up points away and then really go at it home."

The 24-year-old striker scored a stunning equaliser just before the interval at Middlesbrough on Saturday before Scott Parker secured all three points for the visitors with a last-minute winner. He said: "To score just before half-time - that deflates their crowd and their players and lifts us. That showed in the second half and we put on a better performance and, in the end, got the win."

Ashton's fifth goal of the season from 14 games, of which only seven have been starts, was all the more satisfying - given that he was singled out by sections of the home support at the Riverside Stadium. "I feel very good," he said. "To play two 90 minutes in six days against Everton in six days and then another 90 minutes against Middlesbrough - I have proven I am more than fit enough.

"Obviously I want to improve the football side of things and put in better performances and score goals, which is important." As well as the personal gain, Ashton was also pleased for the team as a whole after two defeats by Everton last week in quick succession. "To lose twice to one team at home was difficult to take," he said.

"It is the best way to bounce back - to come to Middlesbrough and get a result." He added that there was particular determination to move away from the sides in the bottom of half of the table, although "to go anywhere in the Premier League and get the points is very good". With Reading the closest rivals in the table behind the Hammers, there is no better time to continue that upward trend than on Boxing Day.

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