Neither Jaap Stam
, nor his players, were about to allow a heavy defeat last weekend derail our play-off hopes. And the way in which the Royals responded at Villa Park this afternoon will have sent more than 2,000 travelling fans home very, very happy.
“The result we had last week was very disappointing – we all know that,” Stam began. “But we spoke about how to get back into the sort of feeling you need to have as a team.
“That was by working hard, having confidence in yourselves, doing the right things, and playing very disciplined. That’s what we’ve done today. And if you do that, you get a result like this.
“We’ve bounced back several times this season – but we also knew, playing against a side who have just come out of the Premier League who have ambitions to go up, who have invested a lot of money in quality players, it wasn’t going to be easy.
“Sometimes results like last week happen, even at the top level; Barcelona against Paris Saint-Germain for example, it can happen to the best teams. It happened with us last week.
“But we stayed positive. There is no reason for us to hammer players at this stage of the season. We know that they can do, how they can play, we’ve got the utmost confidence in what they can do.
“And in helping the players out, telling them what they need to do differently, having confidence in them, letting them talk between themselves about that game we moved forward.
“We needed to bounce back – and there was no reason for us today to think about what happened last week, we needed to go forward. And we did.”
Joseph Mendes got the ball rolling with a sixth minute opener that put Villa on the back foot and, although James Chester levelled before the break, the Royals restored their advantage when Mendes struck once more by connecting with a low Grabban cross into the Villa box at the start of the second period.
Defensively, Reading remained resolute, coping well with the danger posed by Jonathan Kodjia and his colleagues, and a third goal capped off a fully deserved victory.
“You always want to score early, especially playing against a side like this with the quality they have. They’ve been on a really good streak with a lot of wins, and we knew over here in front of their home fans , it was not going to be easy.
“And by scoring that early goal, they needed to come out and attack. They got the equaliser but they still gave us space to come out on the break, and we created a couple of very good chances and scored three goals.
“We knew Villa were doing to go for it in the second half, we knew they’d want to press us second half, so we spoke about it – the space that we’d get, especially in the corners, we needed to use that.
“And it was a great ball from Popa to Grabban, a great cross and again a great finish from Joseph Mendes for 2-1.
“It was a very good performance. We prepared very well and we knew where to hurt them. And the team were very disciplined in what they needed to do and very confident in how they played.
“It’s in our own hands to make it into the top six. And we’ve got to where we are by playing our style. And today, the players were ready to bounce back.”