Wokingham Today

Royals finally enjoy that winning feeling

Reading 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

- By TOM CROCKER and ISAAC FARNWORTH At the Madejski Stadium sport@wokinghamp­aper.co.uk

PAUL CLEMENT hailed the “passion” and “fight” of his players as his reign at Reading got off to the perfect start.

Coming in to replace Jaap Stam following a run of just one win in 18 matches and none in the last nine, Clement secured victory at the first time of asking, but the Royals certainly rode their luck.

Sone Aluko’s stunning strike was all that separated the sides, but the hosts had to survive a QPR onslaught following a red card for Yann Kermorgant.

That eventually culminated in a stoppage time Jake Bidwell penalty, which was saved by Vito Mannone.

And Clement admits it was a far from pretty, but vital victory as the Royals moved five points clear of the relegation zone.

“We dug in,” said the Reading boss.

“It was a scrappy performanc­e at times but it was full of passion, fight and we got over the line in the end.

“It certainly wasn’t a perfect defensive display but I think it’s been a while since the team has had a clean sheet so that’s good.

“I would’ve taken a 1-0 before the game, no doubt.”

Clement made four changes from the side which lost at Norwich in Stam’s last game in charge with Mannone replacing Anssi Jaakkola in goal while Dave Edwards, Joey van den Berg and Chris Martin came in for Pelle Clement, Liam Kelly and Sam Smith.

Royals made a bright start, with Edwards and Tyler Blackett breaking into dangerous areas.

And the hosts were rewarded for their pressure on 13 minutes when Aluko skipped past Bidwell and cut in from the right before rifling a powerful shot into the roof of the net from 22 yards.

QPR came close to equalising almost immediatel­y as Conor Washington struck narrowly wide of Mannone’s near post, then Paul Smyth blazed over the bar.

Rangers continued to press forwards and it took a lastditch block by Liam Moore to deny Pawel Wszolek’s effort at goal and turn the ball out for a QPR corner. Freeman also had a shot blocked by Royals skipper Chris Gunter as QPR continued to assert their authority on the game.

With half-time nearing, QPR thought they had equalised, as Joel Lynch diverted a long shot into the Reading goal, but he was standing in an offside position and the goal was ruled out.

Ian Holloway’s men kept pressing for a leveller after the restart with substitute Matt Smith heading just wide before Mannone’s acrobatic save thwarted Smyth’s rising effort.

The visitors came close again when Dave Edwards was dispossess­ed by Eberechi Eze, who took aim from 20 yards, but he fired wide.

And Royals were dealt a huge blow when they were reduced to 10 men with 11 minutes to go, as substitute Kermorgant was dismissed for a second yellow card after bringing down


It looked like that could prove costly as with Mo Barrow down injured, QPR broke forwards and earned a penalty when Edwards slid in and brought down Wszolek.

However, Mannone guessed right from the spot kick and denied Bidwell, much to the delight of the home fans, and Royals held on for the remaining minutes to secure the vital three points.

“I’m most pleased for the players and the fans,” said Clement.

“The fans showed up in numbers. It was a miserable day weather wise and that can often keep supporters away but they turned out, got behind their team and there was a big noise at the end.

“The players have had a difficult time this year and I know what it’s like to be involved in a team when you don’t get the results and the confidence goes and you’re not playing well, it’s a vicious cycle.

“Hopefully we’ve broken that cycle now.”

READING: Mannone; Gunter (c), Ilori, Moore, Blackett; van den Berg (Bacuna 55); Aluko, Edwards, Swift (Evans 84), Barrow; Martin (Kermorgant 62).

Subs not used: Jaakkola, Holmes, Clement, S. Smith. Goal: Aluko (13)

Yellow cards: Martin (21), Kermorgant x2 (70,81), Aluko (90+2)

Red card: Kermorgant (81) QPR: Smithies; Furlong, Onuoha (c), Lynch, Bidwell; Cousins (Luongo 74), Scowen; Smyth (Eze 74), Freeman, Wszolek; Washington (M.

Smith 58).

Subs not used: Ingram, Manning, Robinson, Sylla. Yellow cards: Bidwell (57), Freeman (69), Lynch (82) Referee: David Coote Attendance: 20,273 (inc. 3,243 away)

 ?? Pictures: Steve Smyth ?? Reading celebrate Sone Aluko's goal
Pictures: Steve Smyth Reading celebrate Sone Aluko's goal
 ??  ?? Chris Gunter makes sure his football can’t be misquoted
Chris Gunter makes sure his football can’t be misquoted

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