News and Views
McCleary Returns As Derby Visit
30 September 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Reading will try and put the heavy mid-week defeat at Brentford behind them when Derby County visit the Madejski Stadium this weekend. The Royals were on a run of eight fixtures without defeat, that had seen them climb to fourth in the Championship table and reach the fourth round of the league cup. The 1-4 defeat at Brentford stopped Reading in their tracks - just when fans were starting to get a bit ahead of themselves, dreaming of a promotion push this season. However, the defeat leaves Reading in 8th place with ten games played and just three points away from second place - a very healthy position given the dramatic changes at the club over the summer and two defeats from our opening three league games.
All things considered the Brentford defeat remains a very minor setback, and victory over Derby County would likely take us back into the top six. Derby County find themsevles envious of both Reading's start to the season and their managerial situation. Chris Powell takes control of the visitors on a temporary basis following the suspension of manager Nigel Pearson. Although sitting in 20th position with just nine points, County were 2-0 away winners at Cardiff in the week under Powell's control and he will be hoping to record another away victory in charge, with Pearson unlikely to make a return.
Garath McCleary will be available for selection again having served the final game of his suspension following his red card. He will expect an immediate return to the starting eleven, particually as Stam tweaks his side following the Brentford defeat. Danny Williams will also be hoping to be back in the side after missing out at Brenford due to minor ankle injury picked up in the win against Huddersfield last weekend. Scoring goals remains a big problem for the Royals once against this season, but Kermorgant is expected to remain up front after his consolation penalty at Brentford.
Talking Points From Huddersfield Win
25 September 2016
By Alex Bower
Reading extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to eight games on Saturday as they beat ten-man Huddersfield Town 1-0. The Terriers were top of the table prior to the game so it was a big win for Jaap Stam's team.
A major talking point will have been Rajiv van La Parra's red card before the half-hour mark due to two separate bookable offences. Reading made their one man advantage count when Roy Beerens netted his first league goal for the Royals. It was a lead that they were to hold onto until the final whistle despite some immense pressure from their opposition in the second half.
Here are some of the things that came out of Saturday's win.
Liam Moore Has Been Immense
The transfer saga surrounding Liam Moore was prolonged to say the least, but his capture was definitely worth it if recent performances are anything to go by. Reading's goal difference took a bit of a battering in the first few games of the season as the team conceded eight goals in their first four Championship games. Since Moore's arrival the team have let in only two goals in five Championship games.
As a team who sometimes struggles to get their strikers firing on all cylinders, being able to keep a clean sheet is vitally important. Ali Al-Habsi has pulled off some impressive saves already this season but the centre-back pairing of Paul McShane and Moore is one that is working well for the Royals.
Let's Talk About Kermorgant
The troubles surrounding the need for a consistent striker are ever present. In recent games Yann Kermorgant has been handed the target man role, playing up front by himself. The concern is that the striker has only scored once this season away to Cardiff. Thankfully the rest of the Reading team are chipping in with goals which is greatly helping their cause.
While Kermorgant did not score against Huddersfield, you have to say that he was one of the best players in the team. In the second half when Reading were struggling to get hold of the ball, Kermorgant was back in his own area heading the ball clear and away from danger. His work rate cannot be faulted as more often than not he was running back into midfield to defend and try and get the ball back.
It has to be said, however, that while his work ethic cannot be faulted he is not playing in the positions he is meant to be. Increasingly as the second half went on and the pressure was being piled on the home side, Kermorgant dropped further back into the defence. While he made a number of important clearances, he was not up the pitch to hold the ball up. Callum Harriott was deployed as the lone attacking player due to his pace, but when the Royals returned to hoofing the ball away from their goal he stood little chance of keeping it in an aerial battle.
If Kermorgant was being played as a defender against Huddersfield then it was a very impressive performance from him. As a striker who is meant to be in the team to get goals, however, it was somewhat below par.
Tactics Still Need Work
When Huddersfield went down to ten men and Reading took the lead, the game looked like an easy win for the home side. The Royals could have scored more than one in the first half but many will have felt that they would go on in the second and add to their lead.
In reality, however, Reading were unable to keep possession despite having the extra man and being at home. Huddersfield increasingly piled on the pressure and Reading retreated to their own half. Instead of passing the ball around, it was increasingly hoofed out and only served the purpose of inviting Huddersfield back into their half. Admittedly Reading too were often looking for another goal themselves but the build-up was often rushed.
It is clear that Reading have already come a long way under Stam this season in a short space of time but the second half acted as a reminder that there is still a lot of the season left to go and work still to be done.
Up To Fourth
With a new manager at the helm, a new style of play, many new faces at the club and the achievements of recent years, I doubt many would have expected Reading to be as high as they are at the moment. The Royals are currently in fourth and are only three points behind the league leaders.
Obviously it has to be said that it is still early in the season. Only nine games have been played and there is still the majority of the season to go. In a new era at the club, however, there are far worse ways to start and everyone involved in the club seems to be buoyed by the recent performances.
Of course Stam is not getting carried away and insists that the club are not aiming for promotion. While it may not be an official target, every club will try and finish as high as they can. If the team can continue to perform as they are at the moment then of course anything is possible.
Royals Beat Ten-Man Huddersfield To Extend Run
25 September 2016
By Alex Bower
"It was a hard, very tough game. We knew it was going to be like that from the start. Huddersfield are a tough side as a unit, as a team and they also have some quality players."
- Reading FC Manager Jaap Stam
"I was disappointed about the result but proud about the performance. We were the better team in the second half."
- Huddersfield Town Manager David Wagner
Reading extended their unbeaten run in the Championship to six games as they won 1-0 against ten-man Huddersfield. The Terriers were top of the table before the game but a deflected Roy Beerens goal was enough to earn the home side the win.
An early red card for Rajiv van La Parra saw Huddersfield go down to ten men in the first half. Despite being a man down for the majority of the game, Nahki Wells had the opportunity to equalise late on but could not convert the chance.
Jaap Stam made a couple of enforced changes to his Reading side following the suspensions for Garath McCleary and Tyler Blackett. Callum Harriott was handed his first league start on the right wing while Jordan Obita came in at left-back. Joey van den Berg also came into the starting eleven after recovering from his hamstring injury. David Wagner, meanwhile, named an unchanged side.
The first shot of the game fell to Huddersfield when Tommy Smith cut in from the right to test Ali Al-Habsi. It was a relatively easy save for the Reading keeper and the home side came close to a breakthrough when a long ball by van den Berg was floated to Roy Beerens. After bringing the ball down onto his chest, the winger was however unable to keep the ball in play.
Elias Kachunga was looking fairly threatening early on and he was next to have an effort on goal for the Terriers. After receiving the ball from his teammate, his shot was deflected wide of the goal. It was a fairly even game but the turning point came when van La Parra was sent off.
The Dutchman was booked initially for a tackle on Jordan Obita. Despite staying down injured, referee James Linington handed him a yellow for what he deemed to be a foul. While the first yellow was somewhat debatable, the second was clear-cut. After van La Parra won himself a foul in his own half, he reacted angrily and walked away when summoned by the referee. As a result, the player received his second yellow for dissent and was sent off. It was an avoidable booking and one that he only brought upon himself.
Huddersfield were forced into a change with Kasey Palmer going off and Harry Bunn coming on in his place. The Terriers dropped deeper and Reading were allowed more time to attack. The closest the Royals came was from a John Swift effort from twenty yards which struck the post. It was a great effort from Reading's in-form man and he was unlucky not to give Reading the lead.
Reading centre-back/ full-back/ winger Paul McShane was next to try his luck from range but his effort sailed just past the Huddersfield post. The Reading chances kept coming with Williams' volley being charged down by Aaron Mooy and Harriott being prevented an effort by a well-timed interception by Chris Schindler.
The Royals were to take the lead only a minute later. Harriott's cross was looped into the box and headed out towards Beerens at the far post. After controlling the ball he fired an effort at goal which deflected off Tommy Smith and over the diving Danny Ward in the Huddersfield goal. It was an unfortunate deflection for the away side but Reading had the lead.
It was nearly 2-0 before half-time after Kachunga lost the ball in midfield, but Williams' scuffed effort could not be met by Harriott after being edged out. The best chance of the half for Huddersfield fell to Mark Hudson but his headed effort went just over. Reading took a 1-0 lead into half time but it could have been more.
If there was ever a fixture deserving the title of "a game of two halves" then this would have been it. Huddersfield were the better team as the second half approached its close despite being a man light and Reading were increasingly on the back foot.
That being said, the Royals started the half fairly brightly with two efforts on goal being blocked. Swift ran at the Huddersfield defence before seeing his shot charged down while Harriott also saw his shot deflected behind for a corner after being picked out by substitute Tennai Watson.
The second half was not without its controversy following the drama of the first half. Chris Gunter, playing at left-back since the substitution of Jordan Obita, was caught in what looked like a one-on-one situation with the speedy Wells near the halfway line. It was deemed a foul by the referee but the distance to the Reading goal clearly worked in the defender's favour and he was only punished with a yellow card to the dismay of the away supporters.
The referee was in danger of losing control of the game as the players from both sides were becoming increasingly agitated when decisions were not going their way. Mark Hudson was next to go in the book for a clear foul on Danny Williams.
Beerens was next to have an attempt on goal and it looked like he would double the lead when he rounded goalkeeper Ward. The winger pushed the ball too far wide, however, and could only hit the side netting. Kermorgant then saw his shot from distance fly wide while substitute Stephen Quinn saw his attempt saved by Ward. Beerens' follow-up was then deflected.
As the game drew closer to full time, Reading were increasingly under pressure. The home side were often camped inside their own half, with Harriott the only attacking outlet. Wells came close to making it 1-1 with just six minutes of the game remaining but his right-footed effort was fired wide. Apart from an acrobatic effort from Kermorgant which was hit high over the bar, all the pressure was coming from Huddersfield in the last minutes of the game.
Firstly Smith ran down the right before crossing the ball across the ground into the Reading box. Thankfully for home fans no one was on the end of it and it went out for a throw. Substitute Michael Hefele then had a great chance but he could only head wide from a central position. Wells probably had the best opportunity when he was allowed to turn but he could only drill the ball over from the edge of the Reading box.
The last chance fell to Huddersfield with the final touch of the game. Kachunga was allowed to head the ball at the Reading goal which was saved by Al-Habsi. The final whistle blew and the game ended 1-0 to the Royals.
To say the final twenty minutes of the game were stressful would have been an understatement but it was another hard-fought win by Reading. When John Swift and Joey van den Berg were substituted the Royals seemed to lose some of their shape and invited more pressure on themselves. It was a reminder that despite their impressive league positioning, there is still much for the team to work on.
That being said, to continue their unbeaten run this early on in the season is a positive and many fans will not have expected the team to be doing this well at this stage. The Royals face Brentford away next and will be looking to push themselves even higher up the Championship table.
Run Extended Against Huddersfield
24 September 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Reading extended their unbeaten run to eight games and moved in to fourth place in the table with a narrow and hard fought victory over league leaders Huddersfield. The first half saw The Royals dominate possession and take the lead with a deflected shot from Beerens shortly before half time. The visitors were reduced to ten men midway through the half when Van La Parra received a second yellow card for dissent, but even before the dismissal, Reading were dominating possession. The second half was a different story as Huddersfield, with nothing to lose, pressed hard for an equaliser. There were anxious moments for Reading particularly in the closing stages as the visitor's pressure began to create some good chances. Ultimately it was resolute defending which allowed Reading to claim three points, but Huddersfield deserve credit for the way they tried to claw their way back into the game.