Royals boss' reaction to 2-0 friendly winThe Royals secured a comfortable win over Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night to ramp up their pre-season preparations with victory in the first of three friendly games within the space of six days.
Manager Steve Clarke had asked the squad to train on the morning of the game too, keen to get as much work into the players' legs as possible before the season starts at St Andrew's on Saturday 8th August - so he was pleased with the challenge his team were given by their League Two hosts at the Memorial Ground.
"It was a good work out," he said after the victory. "I was pleased with the way we started, I thought we started really brightly. But we faded badly later in the first half and lost control of the game a little bit, for no real reason. I found that quite strange with us having started so well.
"Ali made some good saves, that's why we brought him in. He's a good shot-stopper and he dealt with some difficult deliveries from set plays.
"But I was really disappointed with the way we defended the set plays and at half-time I told the boys they had to be more agressive.
"It was nice to see Dominic [Samuel] get the goal at the end of the first half and we were probably a little bit fortunate to be leading at the break.
"And the second half was better. We got more first contacts on their set plays, which was pleasing and we had a much better control of the game in the second period."
Nick Blackman added a second and there could have been more as Rovers goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall kept out strikes from Tariqe Fosu, Blackman and Pavel Pogrebnyak to keep the deficit to just two. Next up, the Royals face Premier League opposition in the form of Swansea City at Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park on Friday night.
"I'll make a few changes again," Clarke explained. "Only Jordan and Niall Keown played the full ninety minutes tonight, so we'll try to get a few more full ninety minutes out of some of them on Friday night."