News and Views

Royals End Season With Shock Away Win

02 May 2015
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading wrapped up the 2014/2015 season with a shock 3-0 victory at Derby County. Everyone expected another defeat to nill, but instead Reading cruised to a comfortable win against a side that needed just a single point to confirm their play-off finish. Instead of another Reading defeat we ended a run of nine games without a victory with one of our best results of the entire season.

Derby, against all the odds, suffered a painful finish to the season as they slipped out of the top six at home against a Reading side they expected to offer little resistance. The 3-0 scoreline didn't flatter the Royals who were good for their win and actually deserved to finish the season on a minor high after such a dismal run of form. The victory will be a big boost for the players and manager Steve Clarke who was just starting to feel the pressure ahead of the summer break.

Before this match Reading had only managed to score two goals in their last six matches. Scoring three in one game - away from home and when the match was of such importance to the home team was way outside anyone's predictions. As expected Clarke fielded a strong time, but a few unavailable players allowed Appiah and Stacey to make rare starts. It started well for Reading and continued that way. After just two minutes Appiah picked up the ball on the half way line after getting in the way of a poor Derby pass. Appiah sprinted the remaining length of the pitch turned past a defender in the Derby box before slotting a quality finish past the keeper to make it 1-0. The goal was a bit of a gift from Derby but extremely well taken by the loan player probably playing his last match for the Royals.

The expected onslaught didn't happen as Reading remained at ease in a even first half. Oliver Norwood had a decent effort from a free-kick that saw a decent save from the Derby keeper. Federici made two good saves to keep Reading ahead, one was perhaps heading wide but the other was a great stop. One negative point saw Jack Stacey limp off. However his injury allowed Tarique Fosu to make his Reading debut from the substitutes bench.

At the end of the first half Derby won a penalty when Jordan Obita clearly wrapped his arm around Russell inside the area. At that point Reading fans would be forgiven for expecting the worst - an equaliser and Reading to probably collapse in the second half. However Bent's penalty kick was well saved by Adam Federici to set Reading up nicely for the second half.

After the break Reading improved further and Derby struggled to get into the match. The early exchanges in the second half saw Reading dominate possession and it was hard to believe it was Reading down at the wrong end of the table. Fosu was clearly enjoying playing for the senior squad and was lively and made a real nuisance of himself. He was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet with a series of efforts both on target and off. He could also be forgiven for having a shot when he would have been better to have passed to the unmarked Karacan who would have been certain to put Reading further ahead.

Reading did make it 2-0 on 72 minutes after winning a corner on the left. The ball wasn't dealt with by the Derby defence and it allowed Michael Hector to score from well inside the area. Derby fans started heading for the exits and Reading continued to look comfortable. With five minutes left to play, Karacan, who was playing a forward role, broke into the box and went down after contact from Grant when he took the ball wide. Garath McCleary stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way to make it 3-0 and wrap up an excellent, and very unexpected, away victory.

Match Preview: Derby County -v- Reading FC

01 May 2015
By Alex Bower

So, the day has finally arrived. The day that Reading fans have been dreaming of for the last few months. Similar phrasing was used earlier on in the season in the days leading up to the FA Cup Semi-Final; a rightfully celebratory occasion. In this case, it is being used to describe a far more underwhelming event - the last day of the 2014/15 season.

It has certainly been a memorable season. On a positive note, the club made it to their first FA Cup Semi-Final since 1927. They also came very close to making it to the Final, but no more on that. There have been more negatives than positives, however, with Reading sitting dangerously close to the relegation zone and all after hiring their second manager of the year.

The cull has already begun, with Ryan Edwards the first to be informed of his release, and it is set to continue over the summer. Many fans are blaming Clarke for Reading's poor performances towards the end of the season, but the manager will be given the opportunity to turn things around. Before he is able to start thinking of next season, however, the Royals face their final test of this season against Derby, as many strive to retain their place in the squad.

Reading have now failed to win in their last nine Championship games, with their last victory being their 2-1 defeat of Brighton back in March. When you consider the fact they have only managed to find the net six times, and failed to score entirely in four of those games, it is easy to see where the problem lies. Last time out, the Royals were able to find the net, but it was simply a consolation goal as they lost 2-1 to Rotherham.

Their opponents on Saturday will be looking to extend Reading's run to ten games without a win. Derby currently find themselves in 7th, and still not guaranteed of a play-off position. Despite an impressive start to the season, the automatic promotion candidates struggled to find their form after their defeat to Reading in the FA Cup. Now if Brentford or Wolves win their final game of the season and Derby lose, one of them will take the final play-off place. With the arrival of "April Player of the Month" Tom Ince on loan in February clearly giving the Rams a much needed boost, they will be confident of getting at least a draw against a poor Reading side.

Derby clearly do not have the same problem as Reading, especially when you look at their recent goal tally. Despite only managing a draw to Millwall last time out, they netted three times in the process. Before that, their game against Huddersfield ended 4-4. If these games show anything, it is that while they are clearly a prolific outfit up-front, their defensive capabilities are sometimes lacking. The opposition do need to have an attacking force that is capable of exploiting their weaknesses, however, which is something that many have doubts about when it comes to Reading. Derby's last home game against Blackpool may be somewhat representative of what Reading can expect, as the Rams cruised to victory 4-0.

The result from the last time the Royals and the Rams clashed, may give Reading some hope. Derby faced Reading back in February in the FA Cup Fifth Round, where the Royals won 2-1 late on. It is important to remember, however, that Derby had Stephen Warnock sent off in the first-half. When the two sides met earlier on in the Championship, it was not so positive for the Royals as Derby cruised to a 3-0 victory at the Madejski. Derby have the greater incentive to replicate their performance in the reverse fixture, and it is difficult to see the game ending any other way.

"It'd [a victory] be a little ray of sunshine for the players and the supporters. The supporters are suffering, as are the players but even a win won't mask a disappointing season." - Reading FC Manager Steve Clarke

If form and incentive not being on Reading's side was not enough, a quick perusal of the injury list for the away side does not make for positive reading either. The Royals will have to take on a strong Derby team with their best players potentially out of the mix. Jamie Mackie, Nathaniel Chalobah and Pavel Pogrebnyak all picked up injuries last time out against Rotherham and their fitness will be a concern for Clarke. Danny Williams and Hal Robson-Kanu may be back in contention, however, after sitting out the last fixture. Derby, meanwhile, have injury concerns over Jake Buxton, George Thorne and Zak Whitbread. Top scorers Chris Martin (21), Darren Bent (12) and Tom Ince (11) are all available.

While Reading will be going into this game with the hopes of salvaging something from an awful run, Derby will make life tough for the Championship strugglers. If there was any time to prove what they are capable of, however, this would be it.

Derby Huge Favourites To Inflict Another Defeat

01 May 2015
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading will be hoping to avoid a bottom four finish this weekend as the Championship season ends. The Royals wrap up a disappointing season with an away trip to Derby County as they aim to avoid a tenth consecutive game without a win. The game is being shown live on Sky Sports 2 as a win or draw for Derby will secure their play-off position finish. The likelihood of Reading winning is remote to say the least and bookmakers have a Reading win as a huge 8/1. Derby, obviously clear favourites for an easy win, are 4/11. Should Reading lose then they could be overtaken by Brighton if they get at least a point at Middlesbrough and Rotherham if they win at Leeds. Reading are already at the lowest they have been all season in the Championship table but there is still potential for a disappointing season to get marginally worse before the summer break.

Steve Clarke will again feel obliged to field what he considers to be a strong side, despite the irrelevance of the game to Reading, and the almost certain outcome of another defeat. It is the last chance to see some of his squad in action before out of contract players leave and the club try and move on other players. It may already be too late for some of the squad to prove a point to the manager. Clarke will keep the same core of the side that lost 1-2 to Rotherham on Tuesday night, but will again make a few changes. Derby of course need to perform despite their weak opposition and will not be resting players ahead of their expected play-off appearance.

Reading's recent record against Derby wasn't too bad until this season. Over the last 20 years, 29 meetings have seen Reading pick up 18 wins over the Rams and score 52 goals. This season we've already played them three times - the FA Cup win against ten men was one of our better showings this season. The other two games in League and League Cup have seen Reading lose 0-3 and 0-2. A bet of another 0-something wouldn't be a bad move.

Meanwhile, with Reading's season already effectively finished weeks ago, the focus is on preparing the squad for next season. The club have offered new contracts to Adam Federici, Alex Pearce and Jem Karacan in the hope of retaining their services for next season. One player that Steve Clarke has already confirmed will not be getting a new contract offer is Ryan Edwards. Edwards was expected to be the next big thing in pre-season last summer when he featured in plenty of games and attracted a lot of attention. However he failed to become part of either Adkins or Clarke's first team squad and he will now need to find a new club.

Other players that are expected to leave the club this summer include Zat Knight and Jure Travner who arrived on short term contracts this season and failed to establish themselves in the side. Despite his FA Cup winning goal against Derby, who Reading face this weekend, Yakubu hasn't done enough to suggest he will be offered a new contract for next season either. The single goal is the only return from 11 appearances this season. Chalobah and Appiah will return to their parent clubs and there seems no chance of them returning to play for Reading. A big question mark remains over the services of season-loan player Jamie Mackie. Mackie has clearly loved his time at Reading, and considers himself a "Reading player" and he is also very popular with the fans - but will the club be able to secure his services from Nottingham Forest.

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Rotting Royals Will Face Derby Live On TV

29 April 2015
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The misery finally ends for Reading fans next Saturday as Reading wrap up the season at play-off chasing Derby County. Derby need at least a point to guarantee a play-off finish and a defeat could see either Brentford or Wolves take the final play-off spot.

However, Derby should be safe of their play-off place as they face a Reading team without a win in nine games and seriously struggling to score. The result seems a foregone conclusion but that hasn't stopped Sky Sports picking the game to screen live - and the population can tune in to see just how many Derby manage to win by. The game will kick-off at 12:15 for the Sky coverage.

After Reading's dismal showing at Rotherham this week, manager Steve Clarke admitted Reading continue to be in serious decline: "You are now seeing a team and a squad that is in decay". Clarke described the 1-2 defeat as a "nothing game" and clearly knows he has his work cut out in the summer to turn around the fortunes of the club: "There's more than one problem, there's lots and lots of problems. It's a group of players who are only used to disappointment. They go on the pitch almost expecting disappointment. It's something we have to change."

Just 210 fans made the trip to Rotherham to witness our latest league defeat, and the TV coverage will probably be enough to put off many more making the trip to Derby. The last away game of the season is traditionally an excuse for some fun and random inflatables - but Reading fans are in little mood to party with the team in such poor form.

This will be Reading's fourth game against sixth placed Derby this season. Reading's previous games have seen two defeats in the League Cup and home in the Championship, and the FA Cup victory when Reading were lucky enough to play against ten men.

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