Two 10s meant Royals moved up to second place in the Championship table after a clinical 1-0 win over Charlton today.
Reading were playing at home over the struggling Addicks and dominated the entire 90 minutes. However, despite their command of the pitch the opposition dug deep and defended hard, thwarting Reading at almost every opportunity.
The statistics tell the story of the game: Reading had 59% possession, 23 shots, 4 on target and seven corners.
Charlton, on the other hand, had two shots on goal only one of which was on target and just one corner. A lot of their possession came from Pope, their goalie, who managed to defend his net well.
It was the game that the Addicks manager had prepared for: in the post-match press conference he admitted as much.
Guy Luzon said: “We had a game plan and we prepared well for this game. Reading are a team with a lot of quality and we knew that before the game.”
A goalless first half saw little incident and the Royals keep up the pressure. There was no early doors goal this time round as Charlton successfully attempted to keep the rampant Royals at bay.
Luzon would probably have been happy if that is how the game had stayed given their position in the table – a point would have lifted them from 20th to 17th. But, thankfully for the Royals, it was not to be.
Nick Blackman was hacked down by Charlton’s Bauer earning him his second yellow of the game and the Addicks were left to spend the final 25 minutes with 10 players on the pitch.
The Royals, like all good predators, sensed that this was their moment and worked up their domination that ultimately ended in the winning goal. Lucas Piazon, who worked incredibly hard all game, fired a cross to Nick Blackman who headed it in the bottom left corner.
His ninth goal in nine matches, it is also his tenth in all games this season.
The Royals kept up the pressure, with Norwood, Williams and Blackman all missing chances.
One of the reasons why Charlton was so successfully neutered – and why Reading goalie Al Habsi had a quiet afternoon – was down the solid defence led by captain McShane. Time and again, when the Addicks actually had a sniff at goal, he was there closing their run down and sending the ball back to the Charlton end.
For manager Steve Clarke, it was three points and “a really important win, but also a very good win for us”.
Charlton, he added, were organised, as he’d anticipated having studied their away form.
“”It was the kind of game we were expecting. We’d prepared the team a little bit in the manner to expect that type of game,” he said.
“We knew that if we didn’t get the early goal, which we’re not going to get every week, it would be a test of patience.”
Tonight, Reading sit second ahead of Middlesbrough but sharing the goal difference.
On Tuesday, the Royals are away to Rotherham who are currently second from bottom. Boro face eighth placed Cardiff, while fellow top table rivals Burnley and Birmingham are also in action away, Hull, in sixth place, are at home.