Monday, 23 May 2022

Reading boss hails side’s turn in fortunes

READING manager Veljko Paunovic has hailed his side’s team spirit.

The Royals defeated Cardiff 1-0 in the Championship on Saturday to get back to winning ways after they lost to Derby County on Wednesday last week.

Paunovic says the last month’s set of results has been solid, picking up three wins and a draw, and he now hopes the players can kick on after the international break.

He said: “When I heard the final whistle I was so proud. So proud of the team’s performance, the team’s spirit, the grit and determination that it took to earn these three very important points as we go into the international break.

“We earned another clean sheet with another very good defensive performance and, although at times it wasn’t pretty the way we played, we figured out how to manage the game and our reward is these three points.”

Reading winger Junior Hoilett, who played 184 games for Cardiff, put the Royals ahead but would end up being their only shot on target.

The Bluebirds pushed hard for an equaliser but could not find their way past Luke Southwood as Ryan Giles hit the post.

Paunovic praised his side’s game management and fitness after watching his players soak up intense pressure towards the end of a soggy afternoon in Wales.

He said: “Ten minutes of injury time were signalled, which I found fair because we had a lot of injuries which needed treatment, but the team reacted very well.

“It was great to see the team take the ball into the corner where our fans were — a great thing to do — and we got the boost we needed from them as we tried to keep the ball there.

“It was a tough game against a very difficult side but we read what was going on very well and the physical output was tremendous. Every player worked immensely hard to grind out the result.

“It is a huge win. A win which helps us conclude a solid month going into the international break.

“The win very importantly gives us confidence, while the break will give us time to recover and time to reflect on the upcoming matches in the next part of the season.”

The last international break, at the beginning of September, produced a turnaround in fortunes for the Royals, who had started the season in a disastrous fashion. Paunovic hopes his side will continue their rich vein of form following this pause in fixtures.

He said: “After the previous international window, I knew the team was only going to get better.

“We had lost at Huddersfield and the players went away with their countries. A month later and look at them now.

“The same players, with a few additions who came in late in the window, and look at the improvement.”

In their last outing against Derby, the Royals arrived on the back of three straight wins.

Craig Forysth’s first-half strike was enough to claim the win and send Derby’s points tally back into positive numbers after their 12-point deduction for entering administration.

Jason Knight whipped in a cross to the back post where left-back Forsyth headed the ball into the far corner.

John Swift had Reading’s best chance but debutant Ryan Allsop turned Swift’s powerful strike over the bar. Later, he also denied full-back Baba Rahman before producing a double save to again thwart Swift and Tom Dele-Bashiru.

The Royals have a week off but return to action when they host Barnsley in the Championship next Saturday (October 16).

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