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Clarke: "I Thought We Were Terrific"

Disappointment in the cup for Reading, who bowed out to Premier League side Everton. Nonetheless, Steve Clarke was full of praise for his team.

Tom Dulat/Getty Images

A good performance against top flight opposition ended in defeat last night as Reading lost 1-0 to Everton at the Madejski Stadium in the Capital One Cup.

Manager Steve Clarke made plenty of changes, including four full debutants and they all had great performances which hopefully leads to a season full of potential for us, to which Clarke told the official club website, "I think it's a good time to be a Reading fan."

The Royals were unlucky and we took the lead in the first half through the in-form Nick Blackman. Clarke felt we were unlucky to lose, saying: "My first instinct is that we didn't deserve to lose the game. I thought we played really well.

"I'm disappointed to have been knocked out and to get done on two set plays, but I didn't think we were under real threat from Everton in open play. We defended well, created a lot for ourselves, it was a good performance."

"First half especially, I thought we were terrific. We passed the ball well and created a lot of problems for a team who are in the top six in the Premier League - and with a little bit of luck we might have found ourselves more than one goal in front at the interval."

"But I think we started the second half a little bit tentatively and they made a change in bringing Gareth Barry on, that give them a bit more presence in midfield, he was a calming influence for them, he gave them a bit more stability."

"We went out there knowing we were 1-0 up, knowing we were in with a chance of causing a bit of a shock and we started it a bit too tentative. And although they were on top in the second half, I never thought they were too much of a threat.

"The first goal came from a second ball from a corner which we didn't defend properly, and it was a good strike through a crowd of bodies. And the second one is a good free kick from Deulofeu which we should have defended better."

"But as I say, they didn't really open us up, there wasn't a point in the game where I thought we were getting murdered. We were in reasonable control besides those two goals conceded from set plays.

"Even when we were behind, there was no panic, we stayed in the game, kept pushing. The game goes to 2-1 and Everton start to sit on it and try to defend it out, which gave us the opportunity to get into the final third and we created one or two opportunities near the end that maybe could have taken the game to extra time. But it didn't happen."

Last night fans saw their first full glimpses of Ola John, Lucas Piazon, Alex Fernandez and Paolo Hurtado along with the returning Jake Cooper, and they all had impressive performances. Clarke added: "It was good quality from John with the cross for the goal, Piazon came into the team and added quality, Hurtado too - it was nice for the Reading fans to see the type of players we have brought to the club."

"I can't say I was surprised, because I've seen them working in training and I know the quality we've got in this group. They all acquitted themselves really well tonight and the two young central defenders were outstanding."

"I was looking forward to seeing these players out on the field tonight. If you look at the squad we've got - we should be able to put out a competitive team every week."

Everton's winner saw an error from Ali Al Habsi when he let the free-kick slip through his hands late on in the game. Clarke came straight to the defence of his goalkeeper telling GetReading, "I haven't seen it again but everyone I speak to can't get the words out of their mouths quickly enough to say it was a goalkeeping mistake.

"But that's what keepers do. We reached the semi-final of the FA Cup last season and our keeper made a mistake which cost us."

"That's the life of the goalkeeper. I said it then and I'll say it again."

Saturday sees return to league commitments with a trip to Burnley.