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Reading preview and pub guide: It’s a right recent Royals revival

Reading preview and pub guide: It’s a right recent Royals revival
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Reading have endured a tough start to the season but arrive at Griffin Park in their best form of the campaign, with two wins from their last three matches.

The Royals, who were nearly relegated last campaign, were in the bottom three at the start of this month after failing to win any of their opening six matches.

But they finally ended an 11-game winless run in the Championship, stretching back to a home win over Preston at the start of April, by beating North End again – this time 3-2 at Deepdale.

Although they followed that result with a 2-1 home defeat by Norwich, they bounced back to beat Hull 3-0 last Saturday to finally climb out of the relegation zone.

Reading’s other points this season came in back-to-back away draws at Blackburn (2-2) and Aston Villa (1-1).

In the Carabao Cup, they beat our next visitors Birmingham 2-0 in the first round before losing by the same score to Watford in round two.

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The Royals, who were a penalty shoot-out away from the Premier League in the 2017 play-off final, only stayed up on the final day of last season with a goalless draw at Cardiff, which also clinched the Welsh side’s promotion to the top flight.

This is their sixth consecutive season in the Championship and 10th in the last 11 – with the odd one out a year in the Premier League (2012/13), when they finished 19th.

They enjoyed two seasons in the top flight from 2006 to 2008 with a side full of ex-Brentford players managed by former Bees boss Steve Coppell – coming eighth and then 18th.

WHO’S IN CHARGE

Paul Clement was appointed as Reading manager in March, replacing Jaap Stam in the hot-seat, with the club three points above the bottom three with eight games go in the season.

Paul, who became the Royals’ fifth full-time boss since 2013, said at the time: “It’s a great opportunity at a club I’ve always respected in my years in coaching.”

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Paul, son of former QPR and England defender Dave, spent his playing career in non-league football before moving into coaching.

After work with Fulham, Republic of Ireland, Chelsea and Blackburn, he became assistant manager at first Paris St Germain and then Real Madrid, before returning to England to take charge of Derby.

That spell lasted less than a season and he then returned to the Continent to become Bayern Munich’s assistant boss.

His next job was at Swansea, who he kept in the Premier League at the end of the 2016/17 season, but he was out of work again six months later.

WE’VE MET BEFORE

Josh Clarke scored at home to Reading for the second successive season, but his first Championship goal in 11 months was not enough to end our winless run in a 1-1 draw just over a year ago.

Right-back Clarke gave us a 16th-minute lead when he exchanged passes with Neal Maupay and fired home.

However, Liam Kelly equalised from the penalty spot in the 70th minute to leave us in the relegation zone – four points and four places behind the Royals.

Things were different in January as Lasse Vibe scored his 36th, and last, Championship goal for us to secure all three points at the Madejski.

Vibe struck in the 74th minute with his seventh goal in eight games to make it five wins out of six in the league and move us up to ninth in the table – only three points off the play-off zone.

Reading’s best chance came through Griffin Park goalscorer Kelly, whose free-kick crashed back off the bar.

OPPOSITION VIEW

Former Reading captain and now BBC Radio Berkshire sports presenter Adrian Williams tells us what has gone wrong for Saturday’s visitors since their Wembley heartbreak, assesses the club’s summer transfer dealings and explains why he is not expecting a goalless draw on Saturday.

Q – Reading have followed last season’s poor end with a poor start to this campaign – what were the pre-season expectations?

A – Reading’s expectations weren’t high going into pre-season. Unfortunately they were winless in six pre-season games, so most Reading fans thought a mid-table finish would be the best they could hope for. Anything better would be a welcome surprise.

Q  –  How did the summer transfer business go?

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A – The big signing was striker Sam Baldock from Brighton. After a slow start, he’s beginning to show his quality and is scoring goals. The other great news for Reading fans –  defender, captain and ex-Brentford loan player Liam Moore signed a contract extension for the club after very nearly leaving. A great bit of business for the club and the player!!!

Q – What has gone wrong in the 16 months since the 2017 play-off final when the Royals were a penalty shoot-out away from the Premier League?

The whole club has had a massive shake-up, both on and off the pitch. Managers and backroom staff have left/arrived, players the same. The club needs to find stability again and hopefully with newish owners, Chief Exec, Sporting Director and manager this will happen, but it will take time.

– How hopeful are you that Paul Clement can reverse the slide?

A – Hopeful rather than expecting it. Clement has a tough job, but last week proved he won’t take too much nonsense, leaving a number of big players with big reputations on the bench. I like him as a  human being, I hope he can be successful.

– How big a role is another ex-Bee John Swift playing this season?

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A – Swift has started the season slowly. Last season he was hit with numerous injuries. He is a match-winner on his day, but I feel fitness is the key with John. His ability is there for everyone to see, technically a very, very good player.

– What style of play should we expect to see from Reading on Saturday?

Always tough to judge when you are playing away from home. However, I do think the tempo/intensity will be high, with two strikers starting and chasing everything down. Over the years Brentford and Reading have had some cracking games, I feel Saturday’s game will be no different. I expect goals…

– Finally can you give me a possible Royals starting line-up and formation?

A – The team will have to change as John O’Shea was red-carded against Hull. If Paul McShane is fit, he would be the obvious choice to slot straight in.

The 3-0 victory over Hull was very comfortable and I think the players have earned the right to keep their shirt. The Iran international midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi will sit just in front of Reading’s defenders and look to get on the ball as much as possible

Brentford will be a much tougher test than Hull.

IAN WESTBROOK
@ianwestbrook

PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS

For Reading fans coming to the game, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be).

As you are probably well aware, Brentford is well known for its four pubs – one on each corner of the ground.

The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and the Royal Oak are the other options.

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Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other …. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.

The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields. The ‘Northfields run’ makes a much better pub crawl route than South Ealing – getting off at Northfields station, turning left and stopping off at The Plough (2 min walk), The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before ending up at The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) by the away turnstiles.

There’s also a relatively new tiny microbrewery pub in Northfields called The Owl and The Pussycat (Northfields Ave)– right turn out of the station away from the ground as opposed to left.

There is a pub right by Brentford mainline station referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.

For real ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman (Ealing Road) can probably hold 15 of you at a push.

The Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super-adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit One Over the Ait (Kew Bridge Road) – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge, and across from the site of the Bees’ new stadium at Lionel Road, with a deck overlooking the river – and The Express Tavern (Kew Bridge Road) – an ale pub with a retro feel. There are a load more pubs in the river in Kew if that takes your fancy.

A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many, many more too if you have a look around.

Parking near the stadium is a no no but is pretty easy in the streets north of Griffin Park on the other side of the A4 Great West Rd via Ealing Road or Windmill Road. Make sure you look our for the parking signs which change from area to area.

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Getting to Brentford from town – many fans get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) then take the Overground train to Brentford, although because of strike action there is only one train an hour this Saturday.

This is relatively straightforward but can actually take longer than if you get the tube because of waiting times (the journey from Vauxhall or Waterloo to Brentford is 30 minutes on the fast train – 51 mins on the slow train – so you could find it takes you over an hour including the journey from King’s Cross/Euston/Paddington).

Many fans choose the tube over the overground. It’s 35 minutes to South Ealing or Northfields stations from King’s Cross or Euston (less from Paddington) and then 15 minutes walk to Brentford from there (4 mins on the bus) – more if you take the Northfields to Brentford pub crawl outlined above (Plough, Lord Nelson, Globe, Griffin) of course. If you’re feeling lazy you could take the E2 bus from outside Northfields station to either outside The Globe pub (3 stops – serves The Lord Nelson too) or Brentford FC (4 stops).

You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.

 

 

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About The Author

Ian Westbrook

Bees fan since 1971 - been through all the ups and downs. Written about, reported on, commentated on and wittered on about all things Brentford in that time as well as watching hundreds, if not thousands of games, and loved every minute of it!

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