Wokingham Today

Clement warns Royals to stay focused on relegation battle

- By ISAAC FARNWORTH at Madejski Stadium

Reading 1 Preston

North End 0

PAUL CLEMENT says he could not have asked any more of his players as Reading earned back-to-back home wins for the first time this season.

After a disappoint­ing away performanc­e at Aston Villa on Tuesday, Royals bounced back with a narrow victory over playoff hopefuls Preston, to continue Clement’s encouragin­g start at the Madejski and move themselves further away from relegation.

It was a tense afternoon for the home fans after Modou Barrow headed Royals in front on 12 minutes, to notch his 10th goal of the season. Preston dominated possession thereafter and offered a serious threat to Vito Mannone’s goal, striking the woodwork either side of half-time but were unable to turn their chances into an equaliser.

The result leaves Clement with an impressive return from his first three games in charge but he knows the task is far from over this season.

“From a points tally point of view, six points from nine is encouragin­g,” said the Reading boss.

“I wasn’t really happy with what happened at Aston Villa but based on the run before I arrived, it’s been a positive turnaround. We’ve got to keep it going though.

“No one’s getting carried away, we know there’s still a lot of football to be played. Five games and the gap between us and Barnsley is five (points).

“That can change really quickly with the games coming so frequently and so many points being available to win or lose, so we have to be very focused. We have to expect this to go to the last game against Cardiff.”

An errant pass from Omar Richards almost led to a Preston goal inside three minutes. Billy Bodin cut in from the right and fired a shot at Mannone, who carried the ball into the path of Alan Browne, but he couldn’t react fast enough to direct the rebound on target.

It was Reading who took the early lead however, with Barrow heading in from close range after Bodvarsson had flicked on Kelly’s free kick towards the former Swansea winger.

Preston forward Louis Moult nearly equalised immediatel­y for the Lilywhites, rattling a free-kick against the crossbar from the edge of the box, before Liam Moore threw himself into an important block after Leandro Bacuna lost the ball in midfield.

Royals came close to doubling their lead in first half stoppage time, with Moore rising well to meet Sone Aluko’s free kick and head goalwards, but Declan Rudd produced a fantastic reflex save to claw the ball out for a corner and ensure it remained 1-0 to the home side at the break.

The Lilywhites were fast out of the traps in the second half, with Bodin driving an effort over the bar from a Greg Cunningham cross before Bodin crossed into the recently introduced Sean Maguire, who thundered a header against the bar.

Preston continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession, sending countless deliveries into the

Reading box without really testing Mannone. Bodin also fired a dipping free-kick over from 25 yards for the visitors as Reading worked hard to protect their slender lead.

Reading pressed for a second to ease the nerves of the Royals faithful, with Barrow bursting through and squaring the ball for Pelle Clement, but the substitute was beaten to the ball by a sea of yellow shirts who cleared it away to safety.

Preston continued to throw players forward in search of a late equaliser, with Bodin again shooting off target, but the Lilywhites struggled to produce any real quality as Royals went on to notch their first Saturday home win this season.

“We’re all delighted with the result,” said Clement.

“It was a grind at times and wasn’t dissimilar to the QPR game I don’t think, where we scored early on which gives confidence but then we had to defend a lot.

“The players were dead on their feet at the end. They gave everything to get the win and I’m really pleased about that.

“It’s what you want as a manager when you first come in, just to show you’re up for the fight and that you’ve got character and determinat­ion to get results.”

READING: Mannone, Gunter (c), Ilori, Moore, Richards (Clement 45), Bacuna, Kelly (Evans 85), Swift, Aluko, Barrow, Bodvarsson (Martin 72).

Subs not used: Jaakkola, Holmes, van den Berg, Kermorgant.

Yellow cards: Bacuna (17), Swift (60)

PRESTON: Rudd, Fisher, Huntington, Davies (Clarke 45), Cunningham (c), Pearson, Browne, Robinson (Harrop 79), Barkhuizen, Bodin, Moult (Maguire 45).

Subs not used: Maxwell, Gallagher, Horgan, Earl

Yellow cards: Davies (10), Fisher (27) Referee: Andrew Madley

Attendance: 15,501 (inc. 704 away)

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Chris Gunter
Chris Gunter
 ??  ?? Mo Barrow and Tiago Ilori celebrate
Mo Barrow and Tiago Ilori celebrate

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom