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Clarke Admits Reading FC Mistakes In Crawley Town Defeat

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Reading manager Steve Clarke offered some excuses behind Monday night's 1-0 loss at Crawley Town, ultimately admitting that The Royals deserved to come away with a defeat in the friendly.

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The League Two side claimed the win when Conor Henderson's second-half strike slipped through Ali Al-Habsi's gloves in a game where Danny Williams hit the bar for Reading and Orlando Sa made his first appearance for the club. Furthermore, Simon Cox got his first 45 minutes of the pre-season calendar while there were minutes on the pitch for academy prospects Sean Long, Shane Griffin, Dom Hyam, Aaron Kuhl, and Andrija Novakovich.

Speaking to the Official Website after the game, former Chelsea defender Clarke said:

"You can make some excuses - it was a bit of a make-shift back four, and we're a bit short of fit centre-backs right now which is never a good thing.
"I wanted to use two strikers tonight, so we had no natural width and we had to try a slightly different way of playing, and it didn't really suit us."

Reading took to the field in a diamond formation with Danny Williams once again in an advanced position, but in pre-season the focus was on game time at all cost and Clarke took the positives from just that:

"Some of the players were tired tonight, which is why I made some half-time changes that I had always planned to make. It was Orlando Sa's first 45 minutes and Simon Cox's first 45 minutes of pre-season, so from a physical aspect some of them got minutes on the pitch which they needed.
"Orlando showed one or two good signs - he had one good header in the first half when he put it back across and Danny Williams could have scored. But there's plenty more to come.
"Hope Akpan and Jake Taylor needed minutes, and Dominic Samuel got some more - you can take all that out of the game, but the game itself was of a disappointing performance and one we deserved to lose."

Game management is back on the agenda after a good draw with Swansea City in Wycombe on Friday, but tough away trips will be par for the course in the Championship and the boss knows that Reading will have to respond better against difficult opposition in the upcoming campaign.


"We have played Tottenham and Swansea in pre-season, so they were two good Premier League tests for us. Tonight was a completely different game to those and it was a game that we didn't handle very well, so that is maybe something we have to work on."

A few days hard at training will be the mandate for the Royals' squad in the coming days, Spanish club Espanyol await at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday while the under-21 squad face Maidenhead United on the same day.

"I've got double sessions planned for Wednesday and Thursday - they'll be a little more tactical than physical, and then we've got the Open Day on Friday," the Scot continued, "I hope that a lot of the supporters come along and take a look at the new group."

"We'll be preparing for Espanyol, which is our last pre-season friendly, and it'd be nice to finish with a good win at home."

Stay tuned for our report from Monday's friendly, coming up later on The Tilehurst End.