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First Team News

Barkhuizen Hoping For Reading Repeat

19 August 2017

Tom Barkhuizen is hoping for a repeat performance of the last time Reading visited Deepdale.

North End ran out 3-0 winners in a dominant performance against the Royals last season, with Barkhuizen scoring his first home goal for the club, one of two he scored that afternoon.

Reading reached the Play-Off final after an impressive first season under manager Jaap Stam, and the PNE forward feels the result that day reflects the competitive nature of the division.

On last season's encounter, the 24-year-old said: "It kick started my home form, I've played twice against them in my career and scored three times so it is one that I look forward to and hopefully I can do the same again this weekend.

"I think that result last year just showed how tight this league is, on any day anyone can beat anyone. We were under a little bit of pressure in the first 20 minutes but after that we were all over them and it was one of those days where I think everything just seemed to click for us and it went well and hopefully we can do the same again.

On what he is expecting from Saturday's visitors, he continued: "I'm expecting them to be similar to last year, we know the way they want to play, they want to pass it around and play out from the back and we will play our normal game and hopefully nick it key areas and score a few goals.

"We've struggled to score from open play so far this season and it would be nice to build on that first win at home and get another good result."

Barkhuizen is one of a number of forward options for manager Alex Neil and the former Morecambe man feels the competition can only benefit the team.

"There's really good competition in the forward positions and you know that whoever comes in is going to do a good job. Myself and Callum have played the first few games out wide but Daryl came on against Derby and did really well and we are all fighting to get one of those two places and we will see what the gaffer wants to do.

"I think as a forward you are always going to be judged on your goals and assists, the way the gaffer wants to play there are different aspects to your game that people probably don't see like the tracking back, the running we've got to do but it would be nice to get off the mark and it would be nice to get the three points.

Depsite the side not scoring from open play so far this season, Barkhuizen feels that once it clicks, the side could be real threat going forward under the manager's style of play.

"It's good, you know when you are pressing so high that you are going to get opportunities, we might not have had too many so far but over the course of the season I can see us scoring a lot of goals because of the way we will be playing. We have got the players in midfield who are good at nicking the ball and then it's up to us forwards to get in the right positions to put the ball away.

"I think the most frustrating thing being a forward is we are getting in good positions and our final ball hasn't been good enough. We had a couple of opportunities to play a couple of balls through on goal on Tuesday and we chose the wrong pass but it's one of those things.

"It's early days at the start of the season and hopefully when that clicks we will be a really good force this season."

Barkhuizen now wants to build on the four points already on the board and wants to maintain the home form the side showed last season at Deepdale.

"We don't want to throw away the two performances against Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday, we were below par against Derby, the legs were probably a little bit tired.

"It's a long season but we will be going into every game thinking we can win and hopefully we can do that.

"Last year we didn't lose many games at home so we need to try and do that again this year, teams really struggled to come to us and hopefully they've got it in the back of their mind that they know they are going to be in for a good fight.

"We obviously need to then turn our home form into away form, I believe we haven't won away since Burton in January so if we want to have a good season we need to replicate the home form away from home.

"Three out of the next four games are at home though so it would be nice to give the fans something to cheer about and push up that table."

Alex Neil's side picked up the three points in front of over 18,000 at Deepdale on the opening day, and Barkhuizen is hoping the fans can play their part again this afternoon.

"It just gives you that extra few percent when you are on the pitch and you know you're doing something right and the fans are getting behind you.

"The way we are playing there are a lot of demands on the legs and when you get that appreciation from the fans it does spur you on to keep going and fighting until the last minute and we will do that every week."

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