These articles are so much more fun to write when we win! A superb 2-1 victory against high-flying Barnsley at Oakwell yesterday means the Royals are now unbeaten in five league games, but in typical Reading fashion, they did make it hard for themselves.
It started so well! Garath McCleary gave the Royals the lead in the ninth minute before John Swift made it two with a superb strike. McCleary made things rather nervy after he was sent off just before half time.
The Royals held their own but Adam Armstrong did score in the 81st minute to make it a nervous final few minutes - but we held on for a brilliant three points.
Jaap Stam was a very happy man and told the Official Club website:
"We started very well, threatening up front. We kept good possession, created very good chances, scored two goals - we were dominating the game.
"At that time we still had eleven on the pitch. But when Garath got sent off, it became a totally different game. You cannot play the possession game you want to, so we chose to play with a 4-41 system. And you need to defend.
"Barnsley are in form and are a very good side, they have quality especially on the wings, they could beat a man and put crosses in. And we had to be very sharp to defend the crosses, make every header - and that's what we did.
"It can be dangerous still and you need some luck in those situations, but I think overall we worked very hard - we didn't give a lot of clear cut chances away. And in the end, we won. Which is very important."
McCleary had an eventful first half after his penalty was saved, which he then converted the rebound. He was sent off after Danny Williams was tackled by Conor Hourihane. McCleary pushed Hourihane after it seemed like Hourihane was berating Williams. Jaap said:
"It was a reaction to the tackle. He needs to be more clever in situations like that. But he knows what he's done, he's feeling guilty for the team.
"He was playing a fantastic game until then. But the red card made it more difficult for the team. We'll talk about that a little bit more of course.
"We played in a different style of play with ten men, we needed to defend instead of having the ball like we're used to. And in a way it's good for them in this learning period...
"...We're building a team and learning how we want to play. Defending is part of that. And they've shown today they can do that.
"You need to have commitment, you need to show you can work together, you need to have communication - and with the quality that we have at the back you can make it very difficult for the team with eleven men. And they did very well.
"It's never easy, playing for 55 minutes with ten men. And there were some stressful moments - if the ball drops in the box then it's a question of who gets there first. Most of the time it was us, so we could knock it away.
"They gave us a hard time in the second time, but I think we coped with it well. And I'm very pleased with the three points."
The table is looking a lot better this season, with us moving to seventh. This week, the Royals face Brighton in the EFL Club before league leaders Huddersfield Town visit the Madejski next Saturday. URZ!