Reading extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to eight games on Saturday as they beat ten-man Huddersfield Town 1-0. The Terriers were top of the table prior to the game so it was a big win for Jaap Stam’s team.
A major talking point will have been Rajiv van La Parra’s red card before the half-hour mark due to two separate bookable offences. Reading made their one man advantage count when Roy Beerens netted his first league goal for the Royals. It was a lead that they were to hold onto until the final whistle despite some immense pressure from their opposition in the second half.
Here are some of the things that came out of Saturday’s win.
Liam Moore Has Been Immense
The transfer saga surrounding Liam Moore was prolonged to say the least, but his capture was definitely worth it if recent performances are anything to go by. Reading’s goal difference took a bit of a battering in the first few games of the season as the team conceded eight goals in their first four Championship games. Since Moore’s arrival the team have let in only two goals in five Championship games.
As a team who sometimes struggles to get their strikers firing on all cylinders, being able to keep a clean sheet is vitally important. Ali Al-Habsi has pulled off some impressive saves already this season but the centre-back pairing of Paul McShane and Moore is one that is working well for the Royals.
Let’s Talk About Kermorgant
The troubles surrounding the need for a consistent striker are ever present. In recent games Yann Kermorgant has been handed the target man role, playing up front by himself. The concern is that the striker has only scored once this season away to Cardiff. Thankfully the rest of the Reading team are chipping in with goals which is greatly helping their cause.
While Kermorgant did not score against Huddersfield, you have to say that he was one of the best players in the team. In the second half when Reading were struggling to get hold of the ball, Kermorgant was back in his own area heading the ball clear and away from danger. His work rate cannot be faulted as more often than not he was running back into midfield to defend and try and get the ball back.
It has to be said, however, that while his work ethic cannot be faulted he is not playing in the positions he is meant to be. Increasingly as the second half went on and the pressure was being piled on the home side, Kermorgant dropped further back into the defence. While he made a number of important clearances, he was not up the pitch to hold the ball up. Callum Harriott was deployed as the lone attacking player due to his pace, but when the Royals returned to hoofing the ball away from their goal he stood little chance of keeping it in an aerial battle.
If Kermorgant was being played as a defender against Huddersfield then it was a very impressive performance from him. As a striker who is meant to be in the team to get goals, however, it was somewhat below par.
Tactics Still Need Work
When Huddersfield went down to ten men and Reading took the lead, the game looked like an easy win for the home side. The Royals could have scored more than one in the first half but many will have felt that they would go on in the second and add to their lead.
In reality, however, Reading were unable to keep possession despite having the extra man and being at home. Huddersfield increasingly piled on the pressure and Reading retreated to their own half. Instead of passing the ball around, it was increasingly hoofed out and only served the purpose of inviting Huddersfield back into their half. Admittedly Reading too were often looking for another goal themselves but the build-up was often rushed.
It is clear that Reading have already come a long way under Stam this season in a short space of time but the second half acted as a reminder that there is still a lot of the season left to go and work still to be done.
Up To Fourth
With a new manager at the helm, a new style of play, many new faces at the club and the achievements of recent years, I doubt many would have expected Reading to be as high as they are at the moment. The Royals are currently in fourth and are only three points behind the league leaders.
Obviously it has to be said that it is still early in the season. Only nine games have been played and there is still the majority of the season to go. In a new era at the club, however, there are far worse ways to start and everyone involved in the club seems to be buoyed by the recent performances.
Of course Stam is not getting carried away and insists that the club are not aiming for promotion. While it may not be an official target, every club will try and finish as high as they can. If the team can continue to perform as they are at the moment then of course anything is possible.