Clarke is look­ing up the ta­ble

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Michael Beard­more

READ­ING boss Steve Clarke in­sists there will be no com­pla­cency from the Roy­als de­spite inch­ing fur­ther away from trou­ble with this fine win at play-off chasers Wolves.

Pavel Po­greb­nyak put Read­ing in front in­side 20 sec­onds and although Benik Afobe lev­elled for Wolves, Danny Wil­liams’ classy win­ner gave the vis­i­tors a de­served victory.

It con­tin­ued Clarke’s fine start to life in the Roy­als’ hot­seat but he is not tak­ing safety for granted just yet.

“This time last week we were look­ing over our shoul­ders at the teams be­low us,” said Clarke.

“Now the gap is ten points but there is no room for com­pla­cency – we want to make that gap as big as we can, keep the foot down and try­ing to get as many points as we can.

“Slowly, we’re try­ing to build some­thing here. The first thing was to sta­bilise and make us harder to beat. I think our re­cent record tells you we’ve man­aged to do that.

“We had a great start to­day but Wolves re­sponded well, pegged us back in the first half and showed why they are where they are in the league.

“We de­fended well, as we have been do­ing, but now we are start­ing to look a threat go­ing the other way and we have good pace and power in the team.”

Read­ing took just 19 sec­onds to go ahead, Simon Cox pounc­ing on Kort­ney Hause’s poor header to loft a ball into Po­greb­nyak, who steered a vol­ley past debu­tant keeper To­masz Kuszczak.

Wolves re­sponded well and, af­ter a com­bi­na­tion of Roy­als’ keeper Adam Fed­erici and Nathaniel Chalobah kept out Bakary Sako’s header, Afobe lev­elled by glanc­ing home Ra­jiv van La Parra’s cross.

Rather than seize the ini­tia­tive, how­ever, Wolves faded af­ter the break as Read­ing’s ex­cel­lent full-backs Jor­dan Obita and Stephen Kelly won their bat­tles with Sako and van La Parra.

Read­ing as­sumed con­trol as Cox forced Kuszczak into a smart save low down while Michael Hec­tor headed a big chance wide from a cor­ner six yards out, ad­mit­tedly un­der pres­sure.

Sub­sti­tute Oliver Nor­wood’s 25-yard free-kick was pawed over by Kuszczak but Read­ing fi­nally won it 20 min­utes from time as Danny Wil­liams mea­sured a 20-yard beauty in off the post.

De­feat saw Wolves slip five points be­hind the top six but boss Kenny Jack­ett re­mains adamant a play-off place is achiev­able.

Jack­ett said: “Five points is noth­ing as there are 17 games to go.We need to be bet­ter than we were to­day - par­tic­u­larly in that sec­ond pe­riod - to close that gap but five points can be made up.

“It was well set-up at 1-1 at half­time shoot­ing to­wards your own fans, you are look­ing for a big sec­ond half but we didn’t do enough to re­ally lift our crowd.

“We were nul­li­fied by Read­ing and, on the break, they had more shots in the sec­ond pe­riod than we did and looked more like scor­ing.

“We had more of the ball and the ter­ri­to­rial play but we did look vul­ner­a­ble on the break. They had pace and move­ment and, ul­ti­mately, in that sec­ond pe­riod, I felt they de­served the win.

“We couldn’t quite get Sako on the ball enough and to be fair to them, their full-backs de­fended very well and made it tough for us to go past peo­ple.”

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

PRE­CI­SION: Read­ing’s Danny Wil­liams side­foots home to score their sec­ond goal

for Wolves LEAP: Benik Afobe scores

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