GOAL hero Garath McCleary has hailed the Royals’ resolve amid a growing promotion buzz around the club following their fifth win in seven Championship matches, writes Ed Fitzmaurice.
The winger scored a 25-yard thunderbolt as the 10-man Royals demolished promotion-chasing QPR in the Hoops derby at Loftus Road, with Danny Williams, Alex Pearce adding to the tally.
McCleary this week said he had been impressed by the way the Royals stood firm for the final 20 minutes of the game on Sunday after the controversial sending off of defender Kaspars Gorkss - and said the overall performance also pointed to a successful finale to the season.
“We dug in well and stuck together like the gaffer asked us to, especially going down to 10 men,” he said.
“We thought the dismissal was a bit harsh, some of their players were saying it was a bit harsh, too.
“But Hec (Michael Hector) was superb when he came on and Pearcey is prolific now.
“The whole team has been brilliant and hopefully we can continue this next week.
“The away support has also been great when we’re on the road and long may that continue.”
McCleary picked up Sky Sports’ man-of-the-match award after his thunder strike - even if team-mate Adam Le Fondre wasn’t exactly forthcoming with his praise. “Alfie just showed the goal back to me,” McCleary said. “I was trying to cross it to him! But it was a good strike, I’m really happy but more pleased about getting the three points, especially against a club pushing for promotion like us.
“I’m glad to pick up the man of the match award….. it looks like it could be made out of chocolate, so I’ll keep it away from my little one!”
There was more good news for the club on Tuesday when their appeal against Gorkss’ sending off was upheld by the FA.
Gorkss was shown a straight red for a late tackle on Rangers’ Junior Hoilett and had been facing a four-match ban having been dismissed at Middlesbrough earlier in the season. The FA confirmed: “Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today, Reading’s claim of wrongful dismissal regarding Kaspars Gorkss was upheld.
“His standard suspension has, therefore, been withdrawn with immediate effect.”
The Latvia international will now be available for tomorrow’s game against Blackburn as well as the upcoming fixtures against Yeovil, Brighton and Leeds, as the Royals look to build on their promotion push.
While they remain sixth in the table, the gap on QPR in third is now down to six points. There have been goals galore in recent weeks with 7-1 and 5-1 wins over Bolton and Blackpool and a 3-0 thumping of Millwall in their previous away fixture.
Boss Nigel Adkins, now looking forward to the visit of 16th-placed Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, said recent matches had left him in no doubt about the team’s goal scoring abilities.
“Sunday highlighted that we’ve got goals in the team from all over the pitch,” Adkins said.
“We’ve got a good shape and you can see the spirit amongst the players. We’re in a good vein of form and everyone’s enjoying it.
“It’s seven games on the spin now that we’ve been able to stick with the same team.
“We started the season well but were without players for spells and that was a challenge.
“We’ve got momentum with us, which is important, and everyone is working really hard for each other.”
Meanwhile Royals chairman Sir John Madejski has revealed he is determined not to repeat past mistakes after his aborted deal with Russian businessman Anton Zingarevich.
Madejski sold 51 per cent of the club to Zingarevich in May 2012, with the Russian set to buy the remaining 49 per cent by September this year.
However he failed to complete the deal and has not been seen at a league game since August, with the Royals now resolved to finding a new owner.
Madejski said: “I will try not to make the same mistake again - a buyer who does not see the whole thing through. It is very important we find somebody that’s earnest about owning a British football club if they’re foreign, and see the job through.”
Despite interest from the United States and Oman, Madejski, in charged since 1990, says there are currently no firm offers.
Atkins has already said that uncertainty over the club’s financial future had prevented him bringing in more players in the January transfer window.
The club missed out on re-signing Southampton striker Billy - who has rejoined former club Doncaster - on loan, as Adkins did not have the funds to bring in the player.
Despite talk linking the Royals with a move for Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan, Adkins has ruled out bringing in any players in the emergency loan window which is open until the end of March.
“We’re going to run with what we’ve got,” he added. “The loan window is open but we’re not looking to bring anyone in. We don’t want to lose anybody either. ”
Madejski, 72, also admitted the turmoil on the corporate front of the last six months had taken its toll.
“Football is very mercurial and very expensive and it is not for the faint-hearted,” he added.
“The last six months have not been easy and it is still not easy. Football is very expensive and requires deep pockets, so no it has not been at all pleasant. Anyone who gets involved in football has got to have a big heart. Clearly we need someone with deep pockets. Any club does.”