ACE MARTIN HAS CLARKE FRUSTRATED
STEVE Clarke insists his Reading side are a good team despite prolonging their goalless drought at the Madejski Stadium to 626 minutes in a stalemate with MK Dons.
Dons keeper David Martin produced a stunning display to keep an impressive but goal-shy Royals at bay.
But it was the visitors who came closest to scoring when Reading oldboy Simon Church, who played 122 times for the Berkshire club, almost haunted his former employees by striking the post.
The Royals haven’t scored at home in the league since Pavel Pogrebnyak netted against Cardiff on April 4 but Clarke is convinced the goals will start to flow.
He said: “It wasn’t frustrating. We controlled the game start to finish. If they continue like this the goals will come.
“Why do you keep going back to April? Start from this season. This season is a different team and a different group.
“This season we haven’t scored many goals but we have bossed the game from start to finish and we’ve had shots at goal.
“If they continue like this I’m convince they will finish in the top half of the table. I have no doubts.
“Football’s a strange game but if you keep doing the right things at the right times and you keep the right habits and don’t concede silly goals, eventually you’ll start to win matches.
“When you start to win matches in this division you get on a cycle because the games come quickly. This is a good team, anybody who has been and watched this team will tell you they are a good team, so we have a big chance.”
MK Dons started the brighter as Darren Potter’s low effort was easily pounced on by Jonathan Bond before Rob Hall beat Jordan Obita only for his shot across goal to drift well wide.
After 20 minutes under the cosh, the hosts started to dominate as former Fulham striker Orlando Sa breezed in behind and would have scored but for a lung-busting defensive run from Anthony Kay.
Sa had a header ruled out for offside, before summer recruit Stephen Quinn curled just over after picking up Hall’s miss-placed pass.
Dons had the best chance of the game against the run of play, Church gently rolling a scuffed shot against the post after good work from Dean Bowditch.
Martin needed to keep a close eye on Oliver Norwood’s swirling 35-yard strike, the keeper parrying before collecting.
He waited until last to produce his best work when he was called into two sensational full-length stops by Norwood and then substitute Nick Blackman.
But MK Dons boss Karl Robinson played down his goalkeeper’s skill, admitting he is used to what he can pull out the bag.
Robinson said: “David was good but other than the save in the first half he didn’t have to make any saves other than what I pay him for.
“Dave gives us move than his shotstopping, there is so many components to Dave that has made him irreplaceable for five-and-a-half years for me. But I don’t like to give my players credit, I just keep playing them, once you get picked week-in, week-out for five years you know what I think of you.”
Dons have only lost one of the last 13 league matches and have not looked out of place in their first season in the second tier.
Robinson added: “I thought we eliminated their chances and they showed us enormous respect.
“They played the system here that they usually play away from home.
“We don’t have the finishing yet. I’m not happy with the point but I am because of the way we performed, we didn’t deserve anymore than that.”
SWINGER: Reading’s Orlando Sa sends his shot wide of goal
STAR MAN DAVID MARTI