With Brighton & Hove Albion’s opponents for the 2015/16 Championship season now confirmed, the club’s media team will take a look at the Seagulls’ 23 opponents for the next campaign.
The 20th team to feature in our opposition focus series is Reading.
LEAGUE POSITION: 19th
FA CUP: Semi-finals
LEAGUE CUP: Third round
TOP GOALSCORER: Simon Cox (8)
2014/15 SEASON REVIEW
Reading finished 19th in the Championship, the Berkshire side’s lowest league finish since they were relegated from the old Division One in 1998.
Nigel Adkins was sacked following the 6-1 defeat to Birmingham City in December, with the Royals languishing in 16th and ten points adrift of the top six.
Steve Clarke was appointed as his successor, but could do little to halt the slide as Reading secured their Championship safety with just three games to spare.
The highlight of an otherwise disappointing campaign was the FA Cup, as Reading progressed all the way to the semi-finals and were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Arsenal after extra time at Wembley.
Their run in the Capital One Cup came to a more premature end though, following a 2-0 defeat to Derby County in round three.
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LAST TIME WE MET:
Mackie ‘24, ‘56
O'Grady (pen) ‘53
Reading secured a narrow win over Albion at the Madejski Stadium through Jamie Mackie’s brace.
The Royals took the lead in the 24th minute when Hope Akpan latched onto a clearance from David Stockdale and fed in Mackie, whose strike beat the Seagulls shot-stopper.
Albion improved after the break and were awarded a penalty after Emmanuel Ledesma was pushed over inside the box by Jake Cooper.
Chris O’Grady took the subsequent spot-kick and easily dispatched the ball past Reading keeper Adam Federici.
But the hosts scored the ultimately decisive second goal just three minutes later, as Mackie cut in from the right-hand side and sent a powerful shot beyond Stockdale to give the Royals all three points.
Reading line-up: Federici; Gunter, Hector, Cooper; McCleary, Williams, Akpan, Chalobah, Blackman; Mackie (Norwood 79), Robson-Kanu (Pogrenyak 76).
Subs not used: Andersen (GK), Keown, Taylor, Cox, Yakubu.
Albion line-up: Stockdale; Halford, Greer, Dunk, Bennett; Ince (Best 75), Kayal; Ledesma (Bruno 86), Forster-Caskey, LuaLua; O'Grady. Subs not used: Ankergren (GK), Hughes, Calderon, Holla, Teixeira.
Subs not used: Ankergren (GK), Hughes, Calderon, Holla, Teixeira.
Steve Clarke began his coaching career at Newcastle United as an assistant to Ruud Gullit in 1998, before leaving the club at the end of the season.
The 51-year-old moved onto Chelsea to take a role in the club’s academy before becoming assistant manager to Jose Mourinho and later, Avram Grant.
Clarke moved across London to become Gianfranco Zola’s assistant at West Ham United in 2008 and was there for two seasons. He became Kenny Dalglish’s assistant at Liverpool in January 2011.
The 51-year-old left Anfield following the appointment of Brendan Rodgers and took his first managerial position at West Bromwich Albion in June 2012. After leading the Baggies to an impressive eighth-place finish in 2012/13, Clarke left West Brom in December 2013 following a poor first half of the season.
The Scotsman became Reading manager in December 2014 and led the club to the FA Cup semi-finals last season.
Reading struggled for goals last season with 48 from their 46 games, and the only way to improve in this department would be by bringing in some new players to bolster their forward line.
The Royals will also be looking for a player that can provide a link between midfield and attack, while goalkeeper Adam Federici will need to be replaced, having joined Bournemouth recently.
A total of 11 academy players were handed their first-team debuts last season, meaning the future is looking at bright at the club.
With a few shrewd additions from Steve Clarke, Reading should improve on their poor showing last season and make another challenge for the play-off places.
See Albion v Reading at the Amex plus 22 other opponents from as low as £20.22 per game by purchasing a season ticket for 2015/16.