WILLIAMS CATCHES BORO ON THE HOP
US international nets after 15 seconds
STEVE CLARKE saw Danny Williams set Reading on their way to victory with a goal after 15 seconds, then jokingly blasted his rampant Royals – for not scoring earlier. USA international Williams’ bullet header from Hal Robson-Kanu’s leftwing cross was the third quickest goal in Reading’s history.
Clarke teased: “I will be having a word with my players because I am not happy that wasn’t the quickest goal we have ever scored.”
If Clarke could afford to see the funny side his Boro counterpart Aitor Karanka was definitely not smiling as the Teesiders’ seven-match winning run came to a shuddering halt.
Angry Karanka said: “I’m frustrated because I have told the players I don’t know how many times not to concede in the first minute.
“Two weeks ago Reading scored twice in the first ten minutes against Burnley and made themselves hard to beat because they are a very organised team.
“To concede in the first 20 seconds makes it very difficult. That changed everything because we tried to play in one way and we couldn’t.”
Many of Boro’s 2,200 travelling fans had not even taken their seats in the stadium, due to an overturned lorry on the M4, when Williams opened the scoring. Karanka’s players may as well
not have turned up either after producing a sluggish first-half performance which made a mockery of their recent good form.
The visitors would have been even further behind at half-time, but for Daniel Ayala’s heroic goal-line clearance to deny former Fulham forward Orlando Sa.
Stewart Downing was Boro’s one shining light and he came closest to finding the net for Boro when his 35th minute free kick through a crowd of bodies was well saved by Reading’s stand-in goalkeeper Ali AlHabsi.
Striker Kike passed up two guiltedged chances to rescue a point Boro would not have deserved as they raised their game after the interval.
First Kike put a free header over Al-Habsi’s bar before blazing well wide after racing in behind the otherwise excellent Reading defence soon after.
Blackman won and converted the all-important spot-kick two minutes from time after a clumsy challenge from Boro substitute Emilio Nsue. Boro have now gone six years without a win at the Madejski Stadium.
Karanka, forced to leave out striker David Nugent due to a hamstring injury, added: “We have to learn and if anybody thought this season would be easy because people are saying we are the best team in the division they are wrong.
“Every game and every single team is difficult. Reading are one of the best teams in this division.”
Clarke paid tribute to the in-form Blackman, who has now scored eight goals in his last eight games.
The Royals boss said: “I was delighted with Nick because I asked him to play out of position on the right today and he did a good job for the team.”
Clarke also admitted scoring so early altered his tactics, adding: “We got off to a flying start and early goal changed the whole dynamic of the game.
“Because we scored so early we could play a little bit more like an away team and try to hit them on the break.”
Despite being just two points and one place behind last season’s losing play-off finalists Boro in the table, Clarke played down Reading’s promotion chances.
Clarke said: “We are taking each game and each week as it comes because it is a long season and things can change quickly in the Championship. We are pleased with how we have started the season and with the performances and points we have.”
DAN THE MAN: Reading’s Danny Williams celebrates scoring their first goal
NO WAY PAST: Boro defender Tomas Kalas shadows Reading's Ola John, while Adam Clayton looks dejected, inset