Clarke praises his ‘cool’ fans

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Con­nor Arm­strong

STEVE CLARKE thanked the Read­ing supporters for their re­cep­tion for him af­ter he ended a dif­fi­cult week by pick­ing up three points against Bolton.

It looked as though Clarke would be named Ful­ham man­ager on Thurs­day night af­ter the two sides agreed com­pen­sa­tion, only for the man in the mid­dle to per­form a U-turn and de­cide to stay.

That might have made him worry about the re­cep­tion he would re­ceive at the Made­jski but Lu­cas Pi­a­zon and Danny Wil­liams struck in the first half to hand Read­ing some breath­ing space.

Liam Feeney did net a penalty with ten min­utes re­main­ing but it did lit­tle to dampen Clarke and the Read­ing fans’ moods.

“It was al­ways go­ing to be a lit­tle bit strange for me here, but I’ve got to say I thought the crowd got it quite right,” Clarke said.

“The re­cep­tion was cool, but noth­ing more than that and they got right be­hind the team. That’s all we ask for.

“I don’t think that the talks with Ful­ham had any ef­fect on the play­ers what­so­ever. The fact that we hadn’t won for five matches was the over-rid­ing fac­tor in the game, be­cause the play­ers them­selves knew this was a game where we needed the three points.

“It was an im­por­tant game to get three points in.We want to stay in touch and stay chal­leng­ing at the top end.”

Read­ing recorded a win for the first time since Oc­to­ber 17 as they con­demned Neil Len­non’s men to an 11th con­sec­u­tive match with­out vic­tory.

The Roy­als were per­haps for­tu­nate not to go be­hind early on, and they had Ali Al-Habsi to thank for keep­ing the scores level in­side an un­con­vinc­ing open­ing half-hour.

The ex-Trot­ter stop­per re­peat­edly de­nied his for­mer side, pulling off a ter­rific save to deny Shola Ameobi’s down­ward header in just the eighth minute.

Bolton went close again six min­utes later when Feeney spot­ted the run of Mark Davies, but the mid­fielder’s low drive was turned away by Al-Habsi.

Just two min­utes later the Oman in­ter­na­tional shot-stop­per was at it again, tip­ping a point-blank header from Dar­ren Prat­ley over the cross­bar.

Read­ing had looked ner­vous in pos­ses­sion, but took the lead in the 30th minute af­ter a fine solo ef­fort from Chelsea loa­nee Pi­a­zon. The Brazil­ian closed down the de­fence, be­fore rush­ing on to the ball af­ter a clear­ance had ric­o­cheted against him. With Ben Amos ad­vanc­ing from goal, Pi­a­zon held off the on­rush­ing de­fender and poked the ball into the Bolton net.

And the Roy­als quickly dou­bled their lead, with Wil­liams let­ting rip low and hard from 20 yards, leav­ing Amos pow­er­less.

Af­ter the break the Roy­als were pan­icked when Ameobi hit the cross­bar with a header.

And the Trot­ters were awarded a penalty in the 80th minute, af­ter Prat­ley went to ground af­ter be­ing tripped by Oliver Nor­wood. Feeney made no mis­take from the spot to score his team’s first goal in just over four hours of foot­ball.

“We should’ve been three-nil up be­fore we shot our­selves in the foot,” Bolton boss Neil Len­non said. “We could’ve had four or five and the goals we con­ceded, we just gave them to Read­ing.

“For a ten-minute spell we let our heads drop and that’s un­ac­cept­able. I thought we were the bet­ter team. Read­ing were there for the tak­ing.

“I need some more of the se­nior play­ers to take charge of things on the pitch.”

PIC­TURES: Pro Sport

OPENED UP: Read­ing’s Lu­cas Pi­a­zon puts the Roy­als on their way to vic­tory STAR MAN ALI AL-HABSI


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