Reading: Federici, Kelly, Pearce, Hector, Obita, Robson-Kanu (Blackman), Chalobah (Norwood), Williams, McCleary, Cox (Akpan), Pogrebnyak
The first Saturday of February was an incredibly cold one, and saw the Royals travel to the Molineux, somewhere which Reading have had reasonable success in recent years. The game was also particularly special for myself being a local girl to the area and attending university there (one of the reasons why I was eager to do this match report too). Considering we hadn't been in the same league as them for six seasons, it was a game I couldn't miss.
Reading's starting lineup remained unchanged from the team which beat Sheffield Wednesday at the Madejski the previous weekend. The Royals' deadline day signing, Yakubu, took a seat on the bench. However, his striking capabilities were not immediately needed as Pavel Pogrebnyak scored within twenty seconds of kick off, giving the visitors the perfect start to what was always going to be a tough match. I'm not going to lie, I wasn't paying much attention to the goal, I was convinced we were scoring the other way (!!!), but a perfectly timed assist from Simon Cox set the Russian up for his third league goal in the 2014/15 campaign. Tomasz Kuszczak, who was making his debut in goal for Wolves, was left horrendously flat footed and probably could have done better.
The Royals continued to press, but Wolves eventually found some steam and had a number of chances. Kevin McDonald had a shot which went close and ended up in the side netting, and Bakary Sako had an effort saved. Their best chance, however, came from a Lee Evans corner. Sako looked to have equalised with a great header, only for it to be saved spectacularly by Adam Federici, and helped off the line by Nathaniel Chalobah. It didn't take long for Wolves to get their goal, as former Reading player Benik Afobe headed in a Rajiv Van La Parra cross in the 26th minute. This was Afobe's second goal for Wolves since his £2million move from Arsenal in the January transfer window.
Wolves remained the dominant team for the rest of the first half, but Reading came out in the second half and put on a fine display. I wasn't at the Sheffield Wednesday game due to work commitments, but I'd say the second half was some of the best football I've seen Reading play for a while. We continued to create chances, but Kuszczak had managed to recover from his shaky start, denying Cox and saving a dipping Oliver Norwood free kick. However, he couldn't do anything to stop Danny Williams' 70th minute winner and his first goal of the current campaign. He hit the ball sweetly from 20 yards out after Garath McCleary had set him up, with the effort hitting the inside of the post before rolling in. Reading came close to scoring a third, but Kuszczak again came to the rescue, denying Nick Blackman in the 80th minute.
This was Reading's first win on the road since Norwich at the end of November, and saw us climb three places to 13th in the table. It was one of those games where you felt incredibly proud to be a Royal, and the players looked like they were just as proud to be playing. Steve Clarke is certainly working wonders behind the scenes, it was like watching a totally different team to the one I saw losing miserably away at Cardiff in the league only a couple of months ago. I still personally believe the play offs are out of our reach, but I'm enjoying what Clarke is building at the club and hopefully the positives can be taken into our home game against Leeds on Tuesday.