I think it’s fair to say that the Royals produced their best performance under Clement on Tuesday night at Craven Cottage despite the 1-0 defeat. High-flying Fulham scored in the first half through Stefan Johansen but Reading were definitely having the majority of the play before then.
Leandro Bacuna was sent off late for the Royals, which is a loss for Saturday. Overall though, not much has changed in the relegation scrap which makes the Sunderland game huge.
Clement felt Reading didn’t make it easy for the team who are unbeaten in 19 league games, and he told the Official Club Website:
“There was a fantastic atmosphere in the stadium and this is a big result for Fulham with Cardiff losing and them going into the automatic promotion places. But we certainly didn’t make it easy for them. Up until they scored the goal, we had good control of the game. Our defensive shape was good and we had a couple of good chances.
”Second half, it was a similar story to the previous three games I’ve been here for - we got tired and found it difficult to create chances. The players gave everything though and at 1-0 in a nervy affair, you’re still in the game right to the very end.
“It was a sour note right at the end with Bacuna getting the red which is not a good situation for us because we need him and now we’ll be without him for a number of games.
”But I think some of our football tonight was the best it’s been since I’ve been here. And it’s difficult because when you play better football, you want the result to reflect that. And that’s not the case tonight.
”We actually played less well against QPR and Preston and picked up two wins - and getting points has to be what it’s all about for us at the moment.
“On the positive side, we’ve had the most difficult game tonight, compared to the other teams around us in the relegation battle. Sunderland picked up a point, but all the other teams lost.”
Arguably, the biggest game of the season awaits with Sunderland the visitors to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and Clement is calling for a good atmosphere, he said:
“We came here to win, but lost by a very narrow margin. So now, Saturday, is the biggest game of the season for Reading Football Club.”
”It would be great to create an atmosphere at the Madejski on Saturday like we had here tonight - it was brilliant. This evening we saw two teams looking to win it, both teams playing good football at times, both teams competitive, and all in a brilliant atmosphere.
”So it’s very important we get the three points at the weekend. Tonight, we pushed a very good team very close. And if we can play with the same passion and will to win at home, then that will serve us well.”