News and Views

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.

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