A return to winning ways was an absolutely must this weekend against Middlesbrough at the Madejski Stadium - but it was just not meant to be.
Boro took the lead early on after Joey van den Berg conceded a penalty and Grant Leadbitter was never going to miss. Liam Moore and Tiago Ilori both suffered head injuries, Moore returned onto the pitch and Ilori was taken to hospital but was later discharged.
The Royals improved in the second half but Boro scored late on to secure all three points as Brit Assombalonga headed home to score their second.
Jaap Stam had interesting comments after the match as always, and told the Official Club Website: “We dominated the possession, but you need to create opportunities and score goals. Not make two mistakes and concede two goals. Then, you’re going to be losing games.
“Football games are not easy to win when you make mistakes. In conceding the penalty, we made a stupid mistake and we could have done better for the second goal with the cross into the box. We have conceded two goals from situations in which we should have done better.
“We have tried to push on and score a goal, whilst being aware of what they were doing - sitting back in their own half and waiting for the moment where we lose that ball and they can go forward. It’s difficult for any team to break a team like that down. And they did it well, they scored two goals. Whereas we made two mistakes and conceded two.”
After Stam’s comments in the week, it was a surprise to us all as Sam Smith made his first start for the Royals. Yann Kermorgant made his return and came off the bench in the second half, but the injury list still doesn’t look good with Leandro Bacuna adding his name to the list and Ilori will be out for a while.
“Tiago is not looking good - he’ll probably be out for a while. He had concussion and I should think he’ll be out for several weeks,” added Stam. “Liam had stitches and we’ll assess how he is, but hopefully he can be available for Tuesday.
“It was good to have Yann back in the squad, but he’s just back from an injury and getting match fit will take a while. And Leandro didn’t train all week with a knock he suffered in the last game. So we’re in a bit of a situation on the injury front, but things like this happen.
“We don’t have any luck at the moment. But sometimes you have periods like this. You need to deal with that, you need to learn from that and you need to turn that around.
“Everybody wants to put it right. You saw today that the team are working hard for it and we started well, going forward, keeping the tempo high, getting Sam into some good positions. But sometimes you need to have that bit of luck. And, to be honest, we haven’t had that this season.
“We need to do certain things better to create opportunities to score goals to win games. And we need to keep the mistakes to a minimum. Decisions from ourselves are costing us games. And that’s what happened today.
“The players have a lot of confidence in what we can do, what we need to do. Maybe we’re just missing that little bit of quality in the pass or that cross. It’s all fine margins which can win or lose a game. Now we need to step up a bit more to get a result to turn things around.”
After the game, Stam again faced questions about his job, he told GetReading: “If people need to take other choices then that’s how it goes.”
“I like the club but if somebody else can do it better and get better results then [the board] need to make that decision.
“That’s how it is. We work very hard as a team and as staff and the players to try and get everything out of it but if there is somebody out there who can do a lot better then they need to make that decision.”
Tuesdays fixture against Nottingham Forest is a must win at the Madejski Stadium. My last word goes to Tiago Ilori and wishing him all the very best in his recovery.