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Clarke: "A game we should never have lost"

17 January 2015

Boss reflects on a disappointing result but a positive display

"It was a game we should never have lost," Royals boss Steve Clarke began his post-match analysis after seeing his side robbed of a point they richly deserved in injury time. "It was a game we should never have drawn to be honest.

"I was preparing myself to be disappointed with a point and in the end I'm doubly disappointed with a defeat."

"I'm sure the supporters who were here today will agree though, that it was probably the best team performance since I've been at the club.

"In the first half we got into a lot of really good positions but didn't create enough clear cut chances. In the second half, we created a lot of chances that, on another day, could and should have been goals.

"But we only got the one and, unfortunately for us, one wasn't enough. And if you end up with no points, it doesn't do you any good on a Saturday night."

After equalising through former Fulham strike star Pavel Pogrebnyak, it seemed the Royals were the team most likely to find a winner and chances fell the visitors' way, but Bryan Ruiz struck from close range in the dying embers.

"Strikers thrive on goals, but right now Pavel is in that dressing room as disappointed as anyone else, because his goal counts for nothing.

"He and Simon put in a great shift up front, and it was a fantastic header from Pavel. I felt they were getting a bit leggy towards the end, so I chose to go with two others up front at the end and we still created chances, we still had the positive momentum in the game.

"It was good to have Garath back too - he's quick, he's direct and he gave the left-back a torrid time in the second half. There were a lot of 'nearly' moments in the box, but it didn't quite fall for us and it just wasn't our day.

"We didn't get anything out of the game and for everybody, it'll be a disappointing drive back to Reading. When I look back and reflect on the performance, I'm sure I'll find even more positives to take. But tonight you'll have to allow me to sulk a little bit."

2,731 supporters travelled to Craven Cottage and cheered their side on from the first whistle to the last, and Clarke was disappointed his team couldn't give them the win they all wanted to take back down the M4.

"The fans were terrific. We knew that with so many of them coming down here, they would be loud and vocal and really get behind the team - and they did just that.

"They really spurred us on in the second half, but unfortunately we can't send them home happy. I'm sure they will look at the performance and see it was a decent performance, but on a Saturday night the first thing you look at is the result and if there are no points for the team, you go home disappointed.

"Next weekend we go to Cardiff in the FA Cup and hopefully we can give the fans something to smile about. We'll go down there with a good strong side and a positive mentality and look to go as far in the competition as possible."

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