News and Views
Clarke's Big Changes End In Big Defeat
24 February 2015
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Steve Clarke sprung some big surprises tonight as he made huge changes to his winning side. Reading traveled to Huddersfield Town and were soundly beaten 0-3, with the home side taking the lead after just ten minutes. After an impressive away win at Ipswich on Saturday most were expecting few, if any changes, to the Reading line-up. Instead Clarke chose to shuffle the squad around, making six changes and fielding an unrecognisable side as Reading crashed to opposition that had started below them in the table.
There was no sign of either Simon Cox or Pavel Pogrebynak as Yakubu made his first ever Reading start. Neither player were even included on the bench as Yakubu was joined by Garath McCleary up front. Oliver Norwood, Hope Akpan, Jake Taylor and Danny Guthrie all returned to the starting eleven with Guthrie and Taylor playing wide. The only area where Reading remained unchanged was at the back with the back four and Adam Federici managing to hold on to their places. Chris Gunter was back on the bench after returning from injury but failed to see any action.
The ups and downs keep on coming for Reading. The Royals had established a good run of away form recently despite two poor home defeats against Wigan and Leeds. This defeat can certainly be grouped alongside those two and Reading struggled against opposition in the bottom half once again. It seems our best chance of success remains against higher placed opposition away from home. This was Reading's first away defeat in seven fixtures - a run that stretched back to January's 1-2 reverse at Fulham.
Adam Federici has been in fine form recently but this was a night to forget for Reading's keeper after his mistake cost an early goal. Reading looked like they might get back into the game throughout the rest of the first half as they enjoyed the better of the possession. Even at full time the statistics showed Reading had 59% possession throughout the game. However two second half goals from Huddersfield killed off any resistance from the Royals. Wells scored on 55 minutes when Federici failed to hold a shot, and Miller put the ball over Federici and into the Reading net with sixteen minutes left to play.
Clarke defending his decision to change the side around and thought Reading might have got something from the game during their first half showing: "I'm a little disappointed for the boys who came in, they tried hard and at one stage it looked like we'd get something but it was strange, like I say it slipped away from us. I'm ten weeks into the job, and it's always difficult to know when is the right time to make the changes. I just felt that in this run of horrendous fixtures, it was right to give one or two a rest and I had to look at some players as well. In the first half, you could see the players that I put on the pitch were good enough to win the game, it just wasn't our night. I didn't change the defensive players and if you look at the goals we concede, they can be a consequence of a little bit of mental tiredness and mental fatigue.
Huddersfield had remained the most dangerous throughout the game with Reading rarely threatening and managing just three shots on target. It seems likely that there will be big changes once more on Saturday as Nottingham Forest visit the Madejski Stadium - it seems unthinkable that Clarke would re-use this same eleven again.
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