Our Carabao Cup journey continues after a second round victory against Millwall at the Madejski Stadium.
Of course, in typical Reading style, it went to extra-time after it finished 1-1 after 90 minutes. Leandro Bacuna scored his first Royals goal in the first half, but three minutes later the visitors equalised through Shane Ferguson. After a frustrating second half, an extra 30 minutes was needed, but George Evans scored to make it 2-1 and a special evening for youngster Sam Smith who scored his first senior goal for the Royals to secure a 3-1 win.
Jaap Stam was a happy man and insisted that cup games were not for youngsters to get involved, but to progress in the competition, telling the official club website
“We’re not thinking about these cup games as test games for young players... these are games we want to win to go to the next round.
“You want to win the game in 90 minutes of course, and we couldn’t do it. But we managed to score two in extra-time - and at the end of the night it’s a good result.
“You always want to get to the next round, because you never know who you’re going to be playing and it always makes it interesting when the draw is made.
“And if you sometimes want to play with young lads and give them a chance to play on the bigger stage, if you get to a different round maybe you come up against a bigger team and it presents players with another good experience. So I’m very happy we made it through.
“But it was difficult to play a team like Millwall. They dropped in very deep and made it difficult for us by not giving away any space. Sometimes that makes it a bit harder for us to create loads of opportunities, but the players worked very hard to create those chances.
“It can take a bit longer to create those opportunities, but overall I’m very pleased with how the players played and how they kept their focus.
“Sometimes, teams can try to force it by playing long balls too quickly because they get frustrated when they can’t get through and suddenly you can be dragged into playing their game, heading balls, winning second balls, playing balls in behind and running after them.
“But we weren’t dragged into that, we wanted to keep the ball, maintain control and eventually create chances. And that’s what we’ve done and we did it well. There are always improvements we can make, but it is a good result and a very decent performance.”
Stam had special praise for our goalscorers, adding:
“Leandro [Bacuna] is a player who can play in a defensive or an attacking role - you saw him drive forward with the goal he scored tonight and he has got a good shot on him.
“I said in the last round when Liam Kelly had scored two, if as a player you get around the edge of the box, especially when it’s very tight with a lot of players in the box, sometimes you need to have a shot instead of constantly playing the one-twos in there. And George did that tonight to score a great goal.
“When we scored that second one, you know they are going to try something different and they played even more direct, throwing balls into the box. But we knew that then there would be a lot of space left in behind and on the break - and Sam was gone. He’s very strong and it was a great finish.”
In the early hours of this morning, Reading were pitted against Premier League Swansea City at home in the third round Carabao Cup draw in Beijing. The tie will be played in the week commencing September 18th.