News and Views
Royals Start Season With 1-0 Home Win
06 August 2016
By Alex Bower
"It was very good to watch, that's what we're aiming for. I know you probably can't do that against every team and this is only the start. There is a lot of hard work ahead and we're not there yet- and they've done very well in pre-season."- Reading FC Manager Jaap Stam
"You need confidence and a victory gives you confidence for the next few games. I think we started off well and that's a boost for us. We believe in ourselves and we have to keep on believing. This start will definitely help."- Reading FC Player Joey van den Berg
"We're disappointed but it's a lesson to learn. We knew Reading were going to play high-risk football and if it comes off, it's all well and good. But when we did our job, we got into some good areas."- Preston North End Manager Simon Grayson
Jaap Stam and his Reading side got the new 2016/17 Championship season off to an ideal start on Saturday afternoon. Midfielder John Swift scored on his debut for the club- having signed from Chelsea during the transfer window- and handed Reading a 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium.
Following the departure of Oliver Norwood only a matter of days before the start of the season, Stam's first team choice became all the more interesting. Predictably Ali Al-Habsi started in goal, with Chris Gunter and Jordan Obita as full-backs. Somewhat surprisingly, partnering Paul McShane at centre-back was Joey van den Berg- Who after his chaotic performance against AFC Bournemouth could have been moved forward to cover Norwood's position. Instead George Evans, Danny Williams and John Swift filled the three central midfield positions, with Roy Beerens making his debut out wide with Garath McCleary. Deniss Rakels was subsequently asked to play up top as the sole striker.
After an emotional and perfectly delivered tribute to Eamonn Dolan before kick-off, the game started with Reading on top from the off. Preston's tactic of sitting deep was also immediately clear. McCleary presented the Royals with their first opportunity of the game after just five minutes but his drilled cross could not be turned in by Obita. Throughout the first half, Preston were well off the pace and often could only watch as Reading tried to pass the ball around their two compact lines of four. The away side thought they had the upper hand when Jermaine Beckford applied the finish from close range but the play was pulled back for a Joe Garner handball.
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