Ad­mirable Nel­son lifts For­est

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By James Owens

DOUGIE FREED­MAN says his side needed to take a more direct ap­proach af­ter de­feat at Brent­ford and his changes worked won­ders as For­est saw off Read­ing.

Freed­man’s de­ci­sion to pair Nel­son Oliveira and Chris O’Grady in at­tack was vin­di­cated in em­phatic fash­ion, with the on-loan duo com­bin­ing to score three goals in a stel­lar dis­play which re­lieved some of the pres­sure on the For­est boss.

“The two for­wards’ com­bi­na­tion play was fan­tas­tic, and jus­ti­fied their se­lec­tion,” Freed­man said.

“I felt, we had to sac­ri­fice our pass­ing game at times, and go­ing a lit­tle bit longer helped us.”

Read­ing had briefly lead cour­tesy of an op­por­tunis­tic 14th-minute strike from Matej Vy­dra, the tenth goal the Roy­als have scored this sea­son in­side the open­ing quar­ter of an hour.

But their fast start counted for noth­ing as wide man Ryan Mendes pro­vided the am­mu­ni­tion for O’Grady and Oliveira to put Steve Clarke’s men to the sword. Mendes cen­tred for Brighton loa­nee O’Grady in the 20th minute, with the striker get­ting off the mark for his home­town club af­ter Ali Al-Habsi lacked the strength to push his firm strike wide.

Al-Habsi should per­haps have stopped O’Grady’s equaliser, but he was a mere spec­ta­tor as For­est took the lead on the half-hour. Mendes was the ar­chi­tect again, driv­ing for­ward doggedly on the counter af­ter a Read­ing cor­ner and switch­ing a low ball across to Oliveira, who fired an un­stop­pable shot into the top cor­ner from 20 yards.

Read­ing could have lev­elled in equally spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion three min­utes be­fore the break when Oliver Nor­wood went for goal with a 30-yard free kick, but Dorus De Vries got across his goal just in time to claw the ball away.

For­est gained some valu­able breath­ing space three min­utes af­ter the restart, when O’Grady crossed from the left for Oliveira to vol­ley home from close-range.

Freed­man’s side were re­duced to ten men five min­utes af­ter the hour, when Jack Hobbs was dis­missed for a sec­ond book­able of­fence, but their two-goal mar­gin re­mained.

“It’s a very sat­is­fy­ing re­sult,” Freed­man re­flected.

“I’m ever so pleased for the play­ers, be­cause it’s been dif­fi­cult for them of late.The per­for­mances have been there, but we’ve not quite been get­ting the re­sults we de­serve, and I think we definitely de­served it.

“In the last 15 min­utes we showed re­silience, and I’m very happy to say that was prob­a­bly the best piece of de­fend­ing since I’ve been here.”

Read­ing boss Clarke was dis­ap­pointed to see his side squan­der their early lead, but stressed the need for per­spec­tive as Read­ing look to push for a Cham­pi­onship play-off spot.

“The big­gest dis­ap­point­ment af­ter a cagey open­ing was that we got our noses in front, then con­ceded too quickly, which gave For­est a boost and a bit of life,” Clarke ad­mit­ted.

“It was quite an open game, but they cap­i­talised more on their chances than we did.

“You al­ways have to keep a sense of per­spec­tive in the chase for a play-off po­si­tion. It’s a long sea­son.

“We had a good chat in the dress­ing room af­ter the game. Noth­ing dra­matic, no tantrums, just a good, hon­est chat among our­selves, and we’ll look to build from this.”

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age

AT THE DOU­BLE: Nel­son Oliveira scores the first of his two goals to make it 2-1 to For­est

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