IT took some deliberation but Phil Parkinson was convinced he had got the line-up just right as he drove away from the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night.

That hadn’t necessarily been the case arriving in Berkshire 24 hours earlier, when a four-hour coach journey was spent sat across from assistant boss Steve Parkin juggling every permutation of available players.

The decision was taken to move back to 4-2-3-1 and give Jan Kirchhoff and Jon Flanagan their first start, the newly-signed pair among seven changes made to the team humbled by Preston North End a few days earlier.

The net result was an encouraging performance, not without flaws, but one which bodes well for this weekend’s shorter trip across the Pennines to face Sheffield Wednesday.

“We gave that team a lot of thought,” Parkinson reflected. “We spoke about 10 times on Sunday and then did some work, mixed the team about on Monday. On the coach me and Steve spent the whole journey looking at footage of Reading, our performances, and by the time we arrived at 6.30pm we said: ‘right, we’re going with this team’. It was quite nice because we could relax for the rest of the night then.

“It’s a system we’ve gone back to but there’s a little bit more football in there with Jan and Jon Flanagan – who I have to mention because he never gives the ball away.

“It gives the team another dimension and we’ll have to keep working on it. But I was pleased with how it went at Reading.”

Parkinson made some brave calls – leaving David Wheater at home, Josh Vela out of the squad and resisting the temptation to bring Mark Little back after suspension.

The net result, however, was a brand of football which was easier on the eye than in previous games.

According to stats from, the number of ‘long balls’ played by Wanderers (24.3 per cent) was their lowest of the Championship season so far and had reduced by more than 15 per cent on recent games against Sunderland and QPR.

Even before kick-off Parkinson felt his team was ready to do what was being asked of them.

“There was an experienced feel about the dressing room,” he said. “I was thinking about what to say when the players came back in from the warm-up but I hardly needed to say a word, the players knew what they needed to do.”

Darren Pratley was played as a number 10 - and Parkinson felt his captain had come in for some harsh treatment against the Royals.

“Hhe did get kicked from pillar to post,” he said. “He doesn’t play act, he doesn’t roll on the floor or try to con the ref.

“That’s just him and I wouldn’t want to take that away from him.”