The Royals are now eight points clear of the relegation zone after a brilliant 2-1 victory over Stoke City at the SCL.
Interim manager Paul Ince, said the pressure was on us and the Royals did exactly what they needed to do. Michael Morrison gave us the lead in the first half with Stoke equalising just before half time. A Stoke own goal gave us a huge three points.
There are now eight points between us and Barnsley, who do have a game in hand over us, but we are now only four points behind Hull. Here is what Ince had to say; he spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.
Ince on the victory
“I’m drained but it was important to get the victory, especially on the back of the draw at Barnsley. We should have won at Oakwell. And this week was about building blocks, we were looking at this week and thinking if we can take four or even seven points then it will be a good week for us.
“And tonight I thought we thoroughly deserved to win. We came out of the traps really quickly. We got the goal we thoroughly deserved. We got the first goal, which was really important. We’d conceded first against Forest and Barnsley and Bournemouth, so it was nice for us to score first at last.
“But then sometimes in football, you can score too early. And we started to protect it, dropping off and dropping off, which allowed Stoke to get back into the game.
“I never thought they were going to trouble us and then just before half-time, their first shot on target and the keeper lets it through his gloves. He’s made himself accountable and he’s been a top, top keeper for us – but he held his hands up to that mistake.
“At half-time, we can’t believe it’s 1-1. So we had to lift them again, which is not easy. But the spirit they’ve got at the moment, the togetherness, the belief, the confidence they’ve got at the moment, they went out and scored a second in the second half.
“Lucas is claiming it, but I don’t know if he’s going to get it. Then we should have made it 3-1 with Femi pulling it back to Lucas – I think he miskicked it.
“And then it goes down the other end and they should make it 2-2. When you miss a chance to make it 3-1 and then they get a chance like that, you’d normally get punished. So we had that bit of luck today, but we deserved it. And yes, we were nervous at times towards the end – but the pressure was all on us tonight. Stoke aren’t going up or down, they could relax. We needed the points.
“And when you’re winning games in this position, you naturally funnel backwards and start defending deeper and deeper. You see it with the top teams in the country, and you see managers like me saying ‘Get out, get out!’. But it’s tough when you’re a player out there.
“They knew what it meant for us to get three points today and they were trying to defend the lead we’d earned.
“The lads were out on their feet at the end. I have tried to play these last two games down, but we all knew how important they were. And physically, mentally and emotionally it has been tiring. But they dug in tonight, stuck together and thoroughly deserved the three points.
“Six games to go. We won’t get complacent. We can’t get complacent or it will bite you in the bum.
“The common goal is to keep this club in the division and the players and the fans were outstanding tonight. We’re looking like a team again. But we can’t get carried away. There is still a long way to go.”
Ince on bringing on Azeez and Dele-Bashiru
“Dele-Bashiru was outstanding when he came on, taking the ball up the park. Azeez has been out for a while but I’ve been watching him in training and he’s going to be a very good player.
“The subs did their jobs, they gave us a bit more pace, more legs. Some of the players were out on their feet but they dug in and stuck together.”
Ince on Hoilett starting instead of Ince
“I was disappointed Thomas didn’t play. It was a situation where the two clubs could have agreed for Thomas to play. But Liam Moore got injured in the Millwall game.
“It would have been nice if Stoke could have done us a favour because of the situation we are in, compared to what they are in because they’re not going up and not going down. They refused to do that, which is disappointing, very disappointing but it is what it is.
“Karma is a wonderful thing sometimes. But saying that, Hoilett has come in, full of beans, has just qualified for the World Cup with Canada and it worked out well. He looked sharp and it’s good we’re getting players back.”
Ince on our survival chances
“It’s an eight-point buffer with six games to go but we can’t get complacent. I don’t want people to start thinking we are there or we are nearly there. We’re not because things can change like that.
“We’ve got the momentum now, though, going into these tougher situations but we can’t think it’s all done because things can change quickly.”
Ince on Drinkwater and Yiadom performances
“Danny was unbelievable on Saturday but it’s hard to pick out individuals. Yiadom was unbelievable, he was amazing and you can see why he’s going to the World Cup.
“He was unbelievable, from the first minute to the last. He won his headers, his tackles and he took us up the park.
“It was a big, big display and he was man of the match by miles. But it’s not about man of the matches, it’s about collectively, working together and when you have experience like Drinkwater, Yiadom and Morrison then we’ve always got a chance.”