After an utterly miserable weekend, Reading completely changed their game for Nottingham Forest, and it worked, with a 3-1 victory at the Madejski Stadium.
We’ve learnt a lot this season, but most of all that possession most definitely doesn’t win games! As last night we only had 43% off the ball. It was a completely different performance from what we witnessed Saturday, there was tempo, there was attacking and more importantly, people in the box when needed!
John Swift scored two great goals after fantastic build-up play from Leandro Bacuna and Mo Barrow. Sone Aluko finally showed what he is made of when he terrorised the Forest defence, with Jordan Smith not able to stop the ball from going underneath this body. Ben Osborne scored a late consolation.
Jaap Stam was finally on good form, he told the Official Club Website:
“We haven’t been getting the results, but the players were still full of confidence. Confident that we could show our ability, confident in how we want to play, but we just couldn’t seem to get that win. Tonight it happened.
“Not that it was easy. Forest are a very good team, they play good football – but the team worked very hard to get the result we all needed.
“The first goal is always nice – in the last couple of games we have gone behind and had to chase the game. Tonight, we scored the first goal and it makes it easier; it is better for the confidence, although you still need to be on your toes against a team of Nottingham Forest’s ability.
“But we deserved the first goal because we had a good start to the game. We pressed them high up the pitch and tried to be aggressive going forward.
“As soon as we got the ball we looked to go forward. We wanted to go forward against Middlesbrough as well on Saturday, but if they score first, sit in deep, hold back and create a big wall in front of you, it makes it difficult.
“So tonight it was good to score first because it opens up spaces, you can create more, we scored a second and a third. And it’s a good win.
“We believe in what we can do and we showed it today.”
Vito Mannone was superb last night, as well as a very good performance from John Swift and Bacuna, a complete turnaround from the weekend, Stam added:
“Vito was critical in the second half, he made some very good saves.
“Swift is fit again and has so much ability on the ball, he can go forward, and score goals like he did today… he was very good. But there were others too, McShane and Liam Moore at the back did very well in blocking everything. It’s nice that certain players stand out, but it’s a team game.”
Next up for the Royals is a trip to the iPro Stadium for a tough fixture against in-form Derby, but our injury list is still not getting any smaller, Stam said:
“Certain players are still out for a couple of weeks, Liam Kelly came off with a hip injury on Saturday so we’ll have to assess him ahead of the weekend. Joey took a bang to the head tonight, so we’ll have to see what we can do with him against Derby.
“And this is just one game. You want to keep the momentum going, stay in the flow of winning, but going to Derby is not going to be easy.
“They are a team in form and they will make it very difficult for us. But with a win, it’s always easier to go away than it is after a loss.”