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Reading 0-1 Watford

New manager, new Reading. Right? Wrong. The same frailties were further emphasised by Watford's loss of a man in first half stoppage time, with Reading still unable find a goal at home. The Royals now haven't scored at home in a month and a half since Simon Cox's goal just after the hour mark against Rotherham. Games against Charlton, Watford, and Bolton have only produced two goals in total, with Reading scoring neither.

Not being able to make games I've been relying on reports from family, and based off those it seems like business as usual at the Madejski. Obita being pushed back to left back, with Blackman coming in in front of him was exactly what I've been calling for, and in the first minute it almost proved fruitful, with a delicious cross from Blackman being volleyed over by Murray at the back post.

With the good coming down the left it's hard to see why so much of our focus was down the right. Gunter, admittedly freed up without the captaincy, combined okay with McCleary but its obvious the two haven't found the best of their form just yet. Making Pearce captain doesn't seem to have caused any problems and, for once, I agree with those on BBCRB that he seems like a natural leader. Having said that his form recently has been poor, and we can't have an Alastair Cook situation with the heart of our defence in the team solely because of the armband. Let's just hope Clarke's seen the tapes of Cardiff, and knows what he's getting into.

In a half of eleven chances only one managed to find its way on target - of course that was for the away team. As well as a good save made from a fierce thirty yard shot he tipped an already off-target header further round the post. The forty-five ended with Angella picking up a second yellow card, which seemed fairly harsh for a handball on the edge of the box after he'd been tripped over by McCleary - admittedly the first was more clear cut.

The Royals came out galvanised, with what would seem to be a perfect situation for Clarke's first game in charge. Almost immediately Murray had another chance to open the scoring, this time firing wide from a tight angle after a ball over the top from Obita left him one-on-one. Murray was instrumental in the game, and despite his inability to finish his flick-ons often worked in our favour. Occasionally it would have been better to hold up the ball, but on the whole he looked rejuvenated.

When he did manage to find other players in blue, especially in the second half, it often ended in chances. Once a twenty-yard shot from McCleary could only be parried but the follow up from Gunter only found the side netting. Almost immediately it went out to the right hand side again, and a low, hard cross from Garath along the six yard box was, somehow, not converted by Blackman. It looked easier to score, with the keeper nowhere to be seen but the ball ricocheted wide.

68% possession, and ten out of eleven shots in the second half wasn't enough to win the match and, again, the poor finishing cost The Royals. With Watford's only chance Abdi hammered home past our Aussie goalkeeper. Yet again Reading outplay the opposition but fail to end up with the win. With all the key chances in the match, Murray's at the beginning of each half and Blackman's incredible sitter, failing to hit the target it's no wonder we failed to score. Again.

Clarke's not had long to find his best squad, and maybe the lack of substitutes speaks to that, but the change of formation to push Blackman up front late in the game meant that Obita was the main outlet down the left wing. Yet again he failed to beat any players, and his crossing under pressure was often poor. Player of the season last year, but needs to step it up now.

Obviously unfair to judge Clarke off one performance - positive or negative - and his first game in charge doesn't seem remarkably different to those from the 'Adkins era' but there were some positive signs. We can only hope that Brighton away on Boxing Day brings a slightly nicer result.


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