Back-to-back away wins for resilient Reading
John Smith's Stadium
Saturday 14th December 2013
Billy Sharp's second goal in a Reading shirt was enough to take all three points from Huddersfield, despite the hosts having the better of the match.
Royals boss Nigel Adkins made three changes to the side that lost to Bournemouth last week, all in attack too, as skipper Jobi McAnuff and Pavel Pogrebnyak return to the starting XI, while there was also a first start in nearly three months for Royston Drenthe. A very attacking line-up by Adkins to say the least and a risk at that too, but one the manager felt paid off.
It was a fairly slow start in West Yorkshire, against a Huddersfield side that beat Burnley 2-1 in their previous home game at the John Smith`s Stadium. Reading probably shaded the opening ten minutes of the game and had the first notable effort, as a glancing header from Kaspars Gorkss, who met Drenthe`s fizzing delivery, went well wide of Smithies` goal.
Mark Robins` side were slowly growing into the game as the progressed and forced Alex McCarthy into his first save just shy of the twenty minute mark, as Adam Hammill tried his luck from distance, but did not cause many problems for the young stopper. It was a game that was being mainly contested in midfield and Danny Williams was certainly getting himself about.
Pavel Pogrebnyak almost had a decent sight of goal following good work from Billy Sharp, but the ball was taken off the Russian`s toe by a good challenge from a Terriers defender. Reading were restricting the hosts to shots from range for most of the first half and Oscar Gobern was another to try an effort from distance, but once again McCarthy was untroubled in gathering it.
The pressure was growing from Huddersfield, but against the run of play, it was the away side that took the lead just after the half hour mark. A very good move led to Obita feeding the Pog on the left side, who crossed for Billy Sharp to nod home between two defenders and give the Royals the lead, despite being on the back foot for most of the game.
Reading could have got a second minutes later also, as Jordan Obita worked his way into the box and forced Smithies into a smart save from a tight angle. Alex McCarthy has pulled off some outstanding saves already this season and he produced another which was superb, as he somehow clawed out a diving header from Danny Ward heading for the top corner of the net.
Adkins` side finished the half well though and threatened to nick another just before the break, as Pogrebnyak almost got on the end of a low cross and then set up Billy Sharp with a smart flick, but the striker disappointingly scuffed his effort into Smithies` hands. The home side had the better of the first half, but found themselves behind to the Royals.
It was a slow start to the second period, but Danny Ward threatened to break to bring it to life, as he fired a firm effort at goal, but was denied by a superb sliding challenge from the impressive Chris Gunter. Reading`s first effort of the half came from Royston Drenthe, who volleyed an effort just wide of the post, after clever play from Billy Sharp.
With time running out for Huddersfield, defender Joel Lynch tried an effort from long range which did force McCarthy into pushing his low drive away, especially considering the wet surface. The Terriers did create a clear cut opening as the Royals carelessly lost the ball in midfield, as the ball was put through for Ward, but McCarthy once again was there to deny the home side a goal.
Substitute Garath McCleary made a good impact when he came on, driving past his man with ease and firing a low effort at goal, which proved problematic for the keeper. The only time that McCarthy was eventually beaten, the post came to Reading`s rescue, as Dixon`s cross was met by Paterson, but his effort came off the woodwork to the frustration of the Huddersfield faithful.
Terriers substitute Sean Scannell was the next player to force the impressive keeper into a save, before Pogrebnyak almost sealed the three points, as he pounced on a mistake by Gerrard, but his shot was blocked well. Scannell again was in the thick of the action and he busted a gut to get on the end of a cross to the far post, but his connection dropped just wide.
Reading were holding firm and the sting was eventually taken out of Huddersfield as Joel Lynch received a second yellow card for a lunge of Pogrebnyak. The final whistle signalled a second away victory in a row for Reading, which also sees us rise to fifth. We again came under great pressure today, but I`d much rather us be playing bad and winning, than playing well and winning!
Huddersfield - 3-5-2: Smithies, Smith, Gerrard, Lynch, Hammill, Norwood, Clayton, Gobern, Dixon, Ward, Paterson
Subs: Woods, Wallace, Bennett, Holmes, Southern, Scannell, Lopez
Reading - 4-1-2-1-2: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Cummings, Williams, McAnuff, Obita, Drenthe, Pogrebnyak, Sharp
Subs: Federici, Kelly, Akpan, Robson-Kanu, McCleary, Blackman, Le Fondre