Saturday, 15 December 2018

Clarke turns attention to FA Cup following lacklustre defeat

READING boss Steve Clarke described his Royals side as a work in progress following their 2-0 defeat to Leeds United

READING boss Steve Clarke described his Royals side as a work in progress following their 2-0 defeat to Leeds United at Madejski Stadium on Tuesday evening.

The visiting Yorkshiremen brought an end to a promising run from Reading, who were looking for their third consecutive victory before goals from Luke Murphy and Sam Byram consigned them to defeat.

Speaking after the game Clarke said, “It’s disappointing but we’ve had a good run. We’re a work in progress. Nobody was getting too carried away when we were getting good results and nobody is going to be too down.

“Credit to Leeds, they played well. It was a good away performance from them. It was a game where I felt, even before the game, the first goal would be crucial because that would open the game up a little bit.

“Unfortunately for us Leeds got the first goal with a great strike from distance, which has to be a good strike to beat Adam [Federici], and from there we huffed and puffed a little bit but couldn’t really create anything that was clear cut and got caught by the sucker punch for the second goal near the end.“

A packed fixture list means that the Scotsman’s side won’t have to wait long for potential redemption, with an FA Cup Fifth Round clash with Derby in store tomorrow (Saturday, 3pm).

Clarke added, “The games come thick and fast. Sometimes that’s a good thing. I think the players, even in the short time I’ve spent with them after the game, they are looking forward to the next game already.

“We’re still trying to improve, and we’re still trying to make the team better, make the squad better and take Reading back up the league table.”

Last Saturday Reading took all three points as they triumphed 2-1 away to play-off chasing Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Royals took the lead with the game only 19 seconds old, Cox lofting the ball over the back line and Pavel Pogrebnyak demonstrating good technique to watch it drop over his shoulder before volleying past Tomasz Kuszczak.

Former Royals loanee Benik Afobe restored parity with a near post header, but after the break Reading pressed and pressed for a goal that would restore their advantage and it came when Danny Williams sidefooted home Garath McCleary’s pull back on the edge of the box.

Reading could have added to the scoreline, Blackman, McCleary and Cox all forcing the Wanderers keeper into saves as the Royals came away with all the points.

Speaking after the game, match winner Williams said, “I was frustrated because I haven’t scored yet this season, in my position you can score five or six goals a season and I was happy we secured the three points.

“I wanted to give the Reading fans something back as well. They always make it easy for me to play, home or away they welcome me with open arms - I wanted to give something back.

“I was happy as a player when they came off the pitch and sang my name. It was also my first goal outside of London!”

Following tomorrow’s cup match the Royals return to Championship action on Tuesday night when they entertain Wigan Athletic (kick-off 8pm).

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