A superb 2-0 victory against a good Middlesbrough side left all Reading fans leaving the Madejski Stadium very happy yesterday afternoon. Each and every player worked their socks off and it was a thoroughly deserved three points and I think it's the best victory of the season so far.
After missing the last three games to other arrangements and not witnessing a goal this season, I was beginning to think that I was bad luck, but these thoughts were gone within 15 seconds when Danny Williams scored the opener. Man of the moment Nick Blackman scored a cool penalty late on to start the celebrations.
Of course, Steve Clarke was absolutely delighted with the win, he told the Official Club website,
I think everyone is satisfied. It was nice to do it at home - it was good for the crowd. We had a big crowd in today, and we got off to a flying start which got the crowd vocal right from the beginning of the game.
We knew that it was always going to be difficult, but getting that early goal just changed the dynamic of the game a little bit. We have made a habit of it in recent weeks and it's a very good habit to have.
Middlesbrough would have been speaking before the game about being solid, inviting us on to the them and maybe trying to pick us off on the counter-attack because they have got players that can do that. That goal changed it and meant that Middlesbrough at some stage would have to open up and come out at us.
To be fair to them, they kept their shape well and kept probing away in the first half. When the game opened up in the second half, we had three or four really good opportunities on the counter to get the second goal. We didn't make the most of that but eventually we got the late penalty - that probably put a bit of gloss on the performance.
Ali Al-Habsi came in for the injured Jonathan Bond and after a difficult start to the season for Al-Habsi, he put in a fantastic display along with the back four to keep a clean sheet. Clarke added:
I'm absolutely delighted for Ali Al-Habsi - he's had a little bit of criticism this year. He is a senior goalkeeper and he understands the job, and he knows that he has made one or two mistakes in games. Today there were no mistakes. Perfect handling, one save from a really difficult free-kick in the first half especially.
The rest of the time when the ball comes in your box and the goalkeeper comes and catches it or punches it with a good connection, it just gives your defenders a bit more confidence. Mind you, Michael Hector and Paul McShane in front of them and the two full-backs don't need much confidence at the moment because they're defending really well.
My wife would kill me. She's happy that we don't have to move around the country!
Now with two weeks off due to the international break we can reflect on what a fantastic run of games for us and hope to build on that when everyone returns! URZ!