The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Daniel Prescott

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.”


MAN Readin


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