Nobody was expecting much out of today’s game with the Royals going up against promotion chasers Fulham, but a brace by Ovie Ejaria sealed three points for Reading at Craven Cottage.
Ejaria gave us the lead in the first half with a stunning goal, and he made it two in the 53rd minute. Rodrigo Muniz made it a stressful last few minutes as he scored a late consolation. Luke Southwood retained his place in goal and made a stunning save to keep us in the game!
The Royals have picked up seven points in the last week, going from being in the relegation area to being in 14th, just three points off the play offs.
Manager Veljko Paunovic was delighted with the victory. After the game he spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.
Paunovic on the victory
“It was a fantastic game, a great day and a fantastic atmosphere. We executed our plan very well. And I’m very happy with the performance of our team.
“Fulham play very, very good football and it was hard. But with grit and determination, character and composure and good execution of our game plan, we managed to get this very important win for us – especially in a week when we have picked up seven points in total.
“We are starting to regroup and get better. We now have a full week to prepare for the next game against Middlesbrough at home. And we now have to start focusing ourselves, from game to game.
“But we have our confidence back, we have our identity back, and we can look to improve and look forward to the next game.
"I'm delighted with many things - first with the result, performance and the way we ground out the win.
"We conceded a goal in the only way - by giving our all and every atom of strength out there to prevent although it was a great build-up from them.
"We were tested when Holmes picked up an injury but amazing, amazing solution by Laurent as an emergency centre-back which he made look very easy.
"After that, with Drinkwater coming in we had more presence and experience in the midfield, and composure.
"We were tested in the second half with a couple of guys being at their limit but we wanted to carry on. We didn't want to make any substitutions because we believe the team didn't need them."
Paunovic on Ejaria
"Ovie had an amazing performance. His execution was fantastic. We see it in training many times and we encourage him to do it more often in games.
"It was more difficult in this game because our game plan was asking a lot of the attacking players to work defensively, but every time we gave the ball to him, Halilovic, Swift, Hoilett...there was some excitement and they were very clinical in execution.
"His talent doesn't surprise me. I see it often but we need to work out how to bring the ball to him more in the final third, and the other guys because it has to be more often so we can have similar performances."
Paunovic on Danny Drinkwater
“He will only get better, together with the team and the team will improve.
“He will bring composure, game understanding, experience, and he’s hungry. He looks very hungry. He was pushing and working very hard.
“He sees this season as a way of reigniting his career and getting back to where he was in the past where he was an immense talent.
Paunovic on his side's character and resilience
“It was a difficult and sloppy start we had at the start of the season. With the points we dropped at Coventry it would have been a different picture and our comeback would have started earlier.
“We were chasing our form and the momentum, and the consistency and belief.
“Our guys ground it out [at Fulham] so credit everyone for believing and staying calm and starting our season.
“There is a long way to go but this is a great win, it helps to recover our confidence and our identity.”
Paunovic on the fans
“We saw a fantastic connection between our fans and our team. We saw lions on the field and lions in the stands.
“And that happened organically and with what the team showed on the field and how they played, as one and not crumbling under pressure, the fans loved it.
“That ignited a great connection which we were looking for.
“Last season we couldn't have the fans so this was a unique opportunity and from now on it just has to be always there.
“We have to be aware of nourishing this very important value that we have now in our team.”
Paunovic on Luke Southwood's late save
“It was a great performance from Luke and everyone else. When the team is on the same page, everyone knows their role in attack and defence, knows what they are doing at set-pieces, then you get performances like this.
“Individuality just pops up wherever it is required or tested, that's how I see it.
“You have to give what the team needs and the team provides the opportunity to shine like Luke did, so did Ovie and other guys too.
“Leadership and the fighting, warrior spirit which Morro showed was immense.
“I'm very happy for everyone.”
Paunovic on Tom Holmes' injury
“It's an ankle sprain so we will see how he is.
“I've heard hospitals are running out of crutches because of all our injured players!”