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Paul Ince Hails A ‘Proper’ Reading Team After Huge Sheffield United Win

The manager’s thoughts on a fantastic performance, the fans and Lucas Joao.

AFC Bournemouth v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - Vitality Stadium Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

The Royals picked up a HUGE win at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United with a last-minute Tom McIntyre winner to secure three important points in our relegation battle.

Lucas Joao gave the Royals the lead in the first half and we looked in good shape throughout. The home side scored a 90th-minute equaliser but it was McIntyre who scored the winner - a moment he will never forget to move Reading nine points ahead of the relegation zone.

Interim manager Paul Ince felt his side’s victory was well deserved. He spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.

Ince on the victory

“I’ll enjoy a glass of wine tonight. Actually, maybe just half a glass… we’ve got another game on Monday!

“It was a fantastic performance from the boys. This was probably some of the best stuff I’ve seen them play under me. All the components were there. We threw bodies on the line, when we had the ball we cut them apart with precise, quick passing… we looked like a proper, proper team.

“When you’re playing against a top team like Sheffield United, and they are a top team – they’ve not been beaten here for 12 or 13 games before this – you can see what it means to win here. And I thought it was thoroughly deserved. And so did Paul Heckingbottom - who told me at the final whistle he thought the best team won.

“We had two or three great chances in the first half – Lucas scored a great goal and has a great chance to make it 2-0 and give our defenders a breather with a cushion. But it didn’t happen and it looked like we might have to settle for a point right at the very end. But to respond the way we did after conceding that late, late goal – it just shows you everything about this team.

“You look at this team in the first half and you wonder how they are where they are. It baffles me. But they’ve got together now and shown real spirit. And today they didn’t give up. When Sheffield United equalised, to go back down the pitch and get the winner… shows you what you need to know about these players.”

Ince on the cushion between us and the relegation zone

“Cardiff at home was a great opportunity for us last weekend. To lose that one and you look at the fixtures coming up, if you’d said we would take three points from a trip to Sheffield United and a home game against Swansea over Easter, I would have said yes please.

“But maybe that was me doing my players a disservice. We’ve shown we can beat Blackburn at home, we’ve shown we can go to Bournemouth and we should have got three points. And again today we come to a team who are fighting to get into the play-offs and get promoted – and we outplayed them.

“It’s nine points right now. But Derby play at home to Fulham tonight, Barnsley still have a game in hand… however, we’ve given ourselves a great chance.

“But this game has a habit of kicking you in the balls. You can’t get carried away. It was a massive result today… for sure. And it takes us into Monday with a lot of confidence.”

Ince on the scenes with fans post-match

“To have the fans come up and support the players was brilliant. Seeing it felt like as a club, they’re coming together - the players and fans. Those scenes of players ripping their shirts off and the fans going mad is great because we all feel as one. It’s not us and them.

“They are our 12th man and will see us over the line. You can probably see how gutted they were when Sheffield United scored but it was great to see them jumping up and down. Putting smiles on fans’ faces, that’s all you can do as a manager.”

Ince on John Swift absence

“We’ll be lucky if he’s back for Luton - if he’s lucky, at a push. We’ve lost Dann and Rinomhota too so we’re down to the bare bones.”

Ince on Lucas Joao’s sub

“He had a tight hamstring. He could have carried on and wanted to but we had to take a precaution with the game on Monday. But he should be OK for that. He’s a good lad, a wonderful striker and I think we’ve got more out of him on the work rate side - he’s doing numbers he’s never done before.

“The players appreciate him. If you do the things you don’t like to do, and he’s doing them for the team, then he gets his rewards with his goals. He scored a wonderful goal and I’ve told him he should have had a second, but it’s about demanding standards.

“He’s a terrific lad and the players love him. If he keeps doing that then we’ll be okay.”