The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Alex Smith

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.”

PIC­TURES: Media Im­age

SWINGER: Read­ing’s Or­lando Sa sends his shot wide of goal


N MKDons

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