SLICK NICK HAS ROYAL APPROVAL
READING boss Steve Clarke says Nick Blackman is at the heart of a rapidly-improving Reading after the striker’s double inspired victory against Brentford.
Orlando Sa opened the scoring for the Royals before Blackman curled in a stunning free-kick to double their lead.
Lasse Vibe pulled one back for the hosts as they desperately tried to grab an equaliser, but Blackman – who has already taken his tally to four goals after scoring five in the whole of last year – made sure of the points with a late penalty.
“Blackman put in a great performance and he deserved his two goals,” said Clarke.
“He has been very good this season, very sharp and he should probably even have had three.
“We have created so many chances this season so it is just nice to score three goals.
“I think we lost 3-1 here last season so it’s clear to see there has been a big improvement in our side.
“We were fantastic in the first half, and I think that may even be the best half of football we have played since I have been here.
“I told the players if the performances continued to be good the results would soon follow.
“There was a spell in the second half where we knew we would come under pressure as Brentford found their game.
“But we dug deep and overall I feel we deserved the victory, it was a great performance.”
Reading looked composed and confident on the ball and almost went ahead with just 15 minutes played.
Blackman picked up the ball on the wide right, cut in and hit a curling effort onto David Button’s crossbar.
Hal Robson-Kanu was named in Chris Coleman’s Wales squad on Friday and he played a huge part in the opener – delivering a perfect ball for Sa to power home the opener.
Brentford were shell-shocked but worse was yet to come as the lively Blackman again took aim at goal.
This time his aim was perfect, curling a left-footed effort into the top right-hand corner of Button’s goal.
Brentford head coach Marinus Dijkhuizen rung the changes but it took until the 67th minute for the Bees to get into the game.
Vibe turned his man before curling his right-footed effort away from Jonathan Bond and in via the post.
The goal got the fans going but they were quickly reminded how dangerous Reading would be on the attack.
However, the Bees failed to take note as Danny Williams burst down the right wing in injury time.
Williams’ cross fell kindly to Blackman in the box before being upended by the Brentford No 1.
Blackman coolly planted his penalty straight down the middle, leaving Dijkhuizen to admit that at times he didn’t even recognise his team in a sub-par display.
“I am very disappointed with how we played and the result. First half was awful because I didn’t recognise my team,” he said.
“There was no organisation and we were poor on the ball.We are not the strongest most physical side so if you are bad on the ball then we have no chance. “But I know we have to be patient because some of our players are only having their second game in the Championship.
“It’s difficult to adapt but we need to get used to the tempo because players coming from Germany and Holland are not ready.
“We have had too many changes in the pre-season and now have had some big injuries to players.
“We also have a bench with no strikers on and the side looks to be lacking leadership. “Hopefully we will be able to bring one or two more players in before the window closes.”
STAR MAN NICK BLACK