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McDermott: "I'm Proud Of The Madejski Stadium Tonight."

Brian's full thoughts on the fans, players and more after Reading's loss to Crystal Palace.

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Our FA Cup journey and dreams are now over after an eventful last five minutes against Premier League side Crystal Palace at the Madejski Stadium. Five minutes from the end, Yannick Bolasie went down and won a penalty for Palace, which saw Jake Cooper receive a red card. Yohan Cabeye slotted home the penalty, although Ali Al-Habsi did get a hand to it but was unable to claw it away. Frazer Campbell scored another goal late on to see the Eagles secure a place at Wembley.

Manager Brian McDermott was disappointed, but had a special word to say about the fans, like normal. He told the official club website:

"The fans did us proud and I'm proud of the Madejski Stadium tonight - I thought they were absolutely fantastic. And we want more of that, in the league. It's a great place to play football, this. And we want this every week, we want to get back to where we were a few seasons ago.

"The FA Cup is a bonus. It can't be that the FA Cup is the be all and end all for our season every year. It must be about the league - and that's something we need to take on board now and next season.

"I've been involved in three FA Cup quarter-finals now and I might not get to a semi-final! But I have won the league here. So if you said to me that I'll not get to a semi-final, but you'll win the league again... I'd take that next season.

"Our priority has to be the league. We don't really want our season to be about FA Cup runs, we want it to be about winning league games - that's what we have to be about."

The penalty decision seemed to be a soft decision - especially as it was days after Palace had a similar decision given against them. McDermott added:

"Their player has gone down really easily. Did he need to go down as easy as that? No. That's the answer to that. But that's what happens in this day and age, so you can't raise you hand and give referees a call to make. Jake will learn from that, but unfortunately the referee made a call and it's gone against us. Crystal Palace had a penalty given against them on Sunday and we've had open given against us tonight. That's football.

"If Ola John scores the header, that game could have been different, but he's hit the target and the goalkeeper's made a really good save. I can't ask much more than that. If we could have gone in front and got that first goal, which was always going to be important, it might have been a different story.

"But they got the first goal, then they hit us on the break when we were down to ten men. I'm disappointed for the players, because they're gutted in the dressing room. And we've got some really good people in that dressing room.

"And if you do the best you can on any given night, you can never lose. You can take losing, so long as you see what we have tonight - guys throwing their bodies in there and a team going toe to toe with a very good Premier League side."

Five academy players started for the Royals last night and McDermott praised Jake Cooper for his performance. Ali Al-Habsi was superb last night and thoroughly deserved his Man of the Match award. McDermott said that...

"Ali was fantastic. He made some extraordinary saves and he's been great for me. He's a wonderful human being, and the more people like that you can get around you, the better you are and the more successful you can become.

"I was gutted for Jake because he's another genuinely good person. He's distraught in there but he has no need to be. I thought he was fabulous tonight and he's going to be a really good player for us.

"The fact that there were five Academy players in the eleven today, it tells you an awful lot about the calibre of our Academy and what we're trying to do here.

"The team that won the league here with me had a number of Academy players as part of it, of whom came through together. We're trying to do something special here again and those Academy players as well as new ones coming through are going to be really important."