Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Hard-working Royals deserve first win says new manager Clarke

READING FC’s first victory under new manager Steve Clarke has been dedicated to the club’s hard-working players.

READING FC’s first victory under new manager Steve Clarke has been dedicated to the club’s hard-working players.

The 2-1 victory at home to Norwich City on Sunday was well-deserved according to the Royals boss, who celebrated with his fist in the air when the whistle signalled full-time.

Speaking after the game he said: “It’s really pleasing, not so much for me but for my team because they’ve given me a lot in my three games at the club.

“A glass of red always tastes a bit better for me when you win! But it’s not about that and I’m delighted for the players, their efforts in a short time have been great, and I’m delighted for the fans because it hasn’t been such a great time for them. Hopefully they can go home with a nice smile on their face, four points from two games is a nice return.

“I think you saw the way we started was with a good tempo and an attitude to get around them. That set the tone, and I said to the players that if you play two games in quick succession, it’s much better to go in front. Chasing when you’re tired is difficult.”

Reading had established a two-goal lead by half-time thanks to a penalty strike from Hal Robson-Kanu, his first of the season, after Michael Hector was fouled by Bradley Johnson.

This was followed 10 minutes later by a team goal which saw Simon Cox with the scoring touch.

Reading would have kept their clean sheet but for a bizarre referee decision which left the Royals with 10 men. Johnson capitalised for the Canaries to reduce the deficit by half.

Clarke added: “It should have been much more comfortable, bar for a really bad officiating moment, shall we say.

“The referee seemed to take the law into his own hands, and decided we couldn’t make a substitution which had already been logged with the fourth official, Guthrie for Cox.” The result was another boost for the manager who has marked the first three games of his tenure with a four-point haul.

Travelling to Brighton on Boxing Day, the Royals saw a 2-0 lead disappear, ending the game with a 2-2 draw.

Again Reading had started the game brightly, a brace from Glenn Murray putting the Royals ahead by the half hour mark.

The Seagulls got one back just before half-time and Reading looked to be holding on for their first win under Clarke before a 91st minute equaliser.

Clarke said: “I didn’t think we deserved to lose to Watford, then Brighton was a tough game and a deserved point, then today we were playing a Norwich team who fancy themselves as probably the strongest squad in the division, but I thought we were better than them and deserved to win.”

The win lifts Reading one place to 16th in the Championship, nine points clear of the relegation zone. A win at home to Middlesbrough on January 10 could lift the side up to 10th. Clarke has vowed to keep his squad working hard and improving.

He said: “For sure we will get better. That has to be the aim. If I’m happy with what we’ve done so far, we won’t improve. I’ll enjoy tonight but I’m already chasing the next win. I’m thinking about Huddersfield, Middlesbrough, I just want to win games and get up the table as quickly as we can.”

Tomorrow (Saturday) the Royals travel to Huddersfield Town for the third round of the FA Cup, kick-off 3pm.

The contest will only be the third time the sides have faced each other in the competition. In their last FA Cup meetings, during the 1985/86 season, Huddersfield forced a replay which Reading went on to win 2-1.

The Terriers prepare for the match following their first win in four games, having ended Bolton Wanderers’ eight-game unbeaten run on Saturday with a 2-1 victory at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Like the Royals, Huddersfield had felt hard done by on Boxing Day, after letting a 2-0 lead slip through their fingers ending the match in a 2-2 draw.

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