On the scoresheet: Nick Blackman helped Reading FC secure a 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers.

On the scoresheet: Nick Blackman helped Reading FC secure a 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers.

READING FC began their home pre-season campaign with a routine 2-0 victory away at Bristol Rovers on Tuesday evening.

Dominic Samuel and Nick Blackman were on target for the Royals, who were given a stern examination by Darrell Clarke’s side.

New keeper Ali Al-Habsi was kept busy throughout, but it was the clinical touch from the Championship outfit that gave Reading victory.

Boss Steve Clarke opted for a youthful side at the Memorial Ground - seemingly keeping several senior players for the sterner test against Swansea City this Friday night.

The name on everyone’s lips throughout the summer has been Tariqe Fosu after his impressive display at Derby County on the final day of last season.

He was rewarded with a three-year contract in June and it’s difficult to see the 19-year-old not playing a big part this campaign.

The tricky winger has a dangerous blend of lightning pace and strength, and seems to have the ability to deliver an end product.

He set up both goals at the Memorial Ground - playing a delighful, chipped pass to release Samuel before successfully completing the easier task of squaring the ball to Blackman.

Playing on the left of a fluid 4-3-3 formation, Fosu looked comfortable in his surroundings and will no doubt be relishing the chance to run at Championship defenders.

Anton Ferdinand also impressed - albeit against League 2 opposition - as he came through 70 minutes unscathed and looked a calm presence at the heart of defence.

Despite the hosts enjoying the better of the first half, it was Reading who went closest to opening the scoring when Niall Keown and Ferdinand both threatened after five minutes.

A Stephen Quinn corner wasn’t cleared and Keown’s goalbound effort was deflected into the path of Ferdinand, who forced a fine, low save out of Steve Mildenhall.

That was as good as it got in the early stages for Reading as Rovers created most of the chances.

Al-Habsi was solid between the sticks, but his kicking was suspect throughout and it nearly cost the visitors after 10 minutes.

Under no pressure, the 33-year-old sliced his clearance straight to Matty Taylor but, under pressure from Keown, he couldn’t get his shot away.

Moments later, James Clarke’s header saw Al-Habsi make a good save, before he tipped away a long-range effort from Chris Lines.

Reading only threatened through a fizzing Aaron Tshibola drive but a moment of class saw the Royals take the lead in the 39th minute.

Fosu picked the ball up just inside the Rovers half and looked up, before delivering an inch-perfect ball to Samuel.

The striker saw his first attempt saved but kept his cool to finish at the second attempt and put Reading ahead at the break.

The second half was a quieter affair and Clarke made four changes on the hour mark as Chris Gunter, Nick Blackman, left, Oliver Norwood and Pavel Pogrebnyak were introduced.

It took just three minutes for Blackman to make his mark as he converted a simple chance from six yards after good work by Fosu and Jordan Obita.

Obita – captain for the evening – released Fosu with a through ball and he squared it for an unmarked Blackman to slot home.

As is the norm in pre-season, the closing stages of the game were disrupted by a string of substitutions.

Norwood’s half-hour cameo was impresive as he dictated the play for half an hour and looked one of the sharpest players on the pitch.

One sublime pass sent Pogrebnyak racing clear, but the forward hesitated and allowed the Rovers defence time to recover.

There was time for Al-Habsi to make a smart save with his legs from Nathan Blissett’s close-range shot, but the ending to the game passed without significant incident as Reading secured their first win of pre-season ahead of a home clash with Swansea on Friday.

<strong>Reading (4-3-3):</strong> Al-Habsi, Long (Gunter, 60), Obita, Ferdinand (Griffin, 72), Keown, Akpan (Norwood, 60), Tshibola (Williams, 72), Quinn (Blackman, 60). Taylor (Novakovich, 85), Fosu (Hyam, 72), Samuel (Pogrebnyak, 60). Subs not used: Bond, Kuhl.

<strong>Bristol Rovers (4-4-2):</strong> Mildenhall; Leadbitter (Lyttle, 46) J Clarke (Kilgour, 75), Parkes, Brown (Greenslade, 46); Sinclair (Malpas, 63) Lines (Gosling, 46), O Clarke, Montano (Bodin, 55); Easter (Harrison, 46) Taylor (Blissett, 63). Subs not used: Lucas, Preston.

Attendance: 1,880 (264 Reading) Referee: Kevin Johnson.