Clarke says fans’ patience was key to third successive home win
STEVE Clarke says the fans’ patience on Saturday proved instrumental in Albion’s third successive home victory.
The players had to contend with a different kind of pressure against newly-promoted Reading as they started as favourites for the first time at The Hawthorns this term.
With Royals keeper Alex McCarthy in fine form, the visitors proved a tough nut to crack.
But the home supporters stayed with the players and were rewarded when Romelu Lukaku grabbed the only goal of the game 19 minutes from time.
“In the two home performances previous to Saturday – 3-0 against Liverpool, 2-0 against Everton – the game changed quite late on in both of them,” said Clarke.
“The fans know it takes an hour, maybe 65 or 75 minutes, for the chances to come to win a match and I thought they were really good. They stuck with us.
“They were obviously getting nervous, as everyone was, but they stuck with us and got their reward.”
Albion finished the weekend in the heady heights of fourth place and Clarke was pleased with how his team converted a difficult afternoon into three more points.
“We identified this as a game that was important to win,” he added.
“We were the underdogs against Liverpool and Everton. We weren't on Saturday.
“It wasn't a fantastic, free-flowing game. Although we passed it well at times, it was scrappy – but it was a very important win.
“When you lose a game in the Barclays Premier League, you can lose another one and you then start wondering where the next win is coming from.
“But we got the job done against Reading and ten points from five matches is a good start.”
Clarke admitted he had Albion’s next two matches – at home to Liverpool in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday and at Villa on Sunday – in his thoughts when he picked his team to play Reading.
“You have to use your squad,” added the head coach.
“With the games coming up, that was also a reason for some changes on Saturday.
“You look at the game and the opposition and try and make the correct decisions for the team.
“Fortunately, it worked on Saturday and now I have to work out what’s best for Wednesday with an eye on Sunday.”