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Huddersfield Town 1-0 Reading FC: Match Report

Our match reporter Jack Simpson gives his verdict on a narrow defeat for the Royals.

Gareth Copley/Getty Images

In what many considered to be a titanic clash between two of the best teams in the Championship, Reading lost 1-0 at the John Smith's Stadium against Huddersfield on Tuesday.

Terriers midfielder Philip Billing got the winner in the 82nd minute of the game, with the Danish man following up an initial effort after the Royals failed to clear their lines.

In a tight game, Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi kept his side in the game during the first half making a wonderful diving save to deny Rajiv Van La Parra from the penalty spot, tipping the shot wide of the right hand post and out for a corner.

With Reading going into the final ten minutes they were on course to earn a well deserved point. However, all that changed in a blink of an eye when Billing popped up with the winner for Huddersfield and keep his side in third place.

Reading's game plan worked for 82 minutes

Heading into the game Huddersfield had scored in all but one of their home games and had put three past Reading in the previous two league meetings between the teams at the John Smith's Stadium.

So you would be forgiven for thinking that Huddersfield would run rings around, let's be honest, a fragile Reading defence.

However, for 82 minutes they contained Huddersfield, with the back four being organised and not allowing the Terriers time and space in which to play balls in behind.

Jordan Obita made a goal-saving tackle in the first half to deny Nahki Wells from getting a shot away, which probably would have found the back of the net had the left back not made the tackle.

Tyler Blackett also had one of his best games in a Reading shirt with his tackling and pressing. The centre back was very unlucky to be given a penalty against him and his recent performances now give Jaap Stam a selection headache now Paul McShane has returned to the first team fold.

Once Reading weathered the first half hour in which Huddersfield dominated possession, the Royals slowly grew into the game. After that neither side really dominated possession.

Stam's team may have lost, but they can take the positives and confidence from this defeat heading into the next six weeks in which they play the remaining teams in the top six.

Last night's defeat showed Reading can compete with the best teams in the league for large periods and if they play like they did on Tuesday, then the Royals should reap the rewards with more positive results.

Al Habsi kept his side in the game again

Reading goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi kept his side in the game yet again, making an excellent save to deny Van La Parra from the penalty spot.

This is not the first time the Omani has done this, the games against Fulham and Brentford at home spring to mind along with other numerous games this season.

If the goalkeeper hadn't made the penalty save, then the Reading heads may have dropped and Huddersfield could have won the game in a more comfortable fashion.

Al Habsi has had his best season since arriving at the Madejski and is surely in line to be one of the contenders for player of the season yet again.

Where was George Evans?

When the team was announced, I was a bit surprised to see George Evans named amongst the substitutes.

The midfielder has been one of the underrated players of the season with his tackling, passing and calmness on the ball.

People may argue that Jord0n Mutch has these qualities, but Evans has demonstrated in big games his ability to break play up and slow things down, surely he would have been a better option for the first 60 or 70 minutes.

As mentioned previously Huddersfield dominated the first half an hour with their possession with the likes of Aaron Mooy and Billing pulling the strings. This could have been prevented if Evans was playing the holding role in midfield with Williams and Kelly lining up along side him.

If I were Jaap Stam, Evans would have been in my starting line up for Tuesday's match and the midfielder surely has to start in the vital games coming up.

The ref got it wrong again

Not for the first time, Reading were undone by two questionable decisions by the referee.

First the penalty that was given to Huddersfield in which Izzy Brown went down far too easy with Tyler Blackett adjudged to have tripped the striker.

Then in the second half the referee failed to a give a stone wall penalty to Reading, when Lewis Grabban was brought down by Ward. From where I was sitting it was a obvious penalty and from having seen replays in real time and in slow motion my mind hasn't changed.

If Grabban went down looking for it, then why wasn't he booked for diving?

Had the referee given the penalty with it then being converted, the result would have been completely different.

When will the EFL do something about the standard of refereeing? Decisions like this cost Reading a positive result and may impact on the outcome of the Royals season.