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Jaap: “That’s cup football!”

24 August 2016

Manager reflects on shoot-out win against Dons

“That’s cup football – everything can happen,” reflected Jaap Stam after a night of drama at Madejski Stadium… ultimately it was a happy ending as Reading defeated their EFL Cup second round opponents MK Dons on spot-kicks, as 90 minutes of football and another 30 of extra-time wasn’t enough to separate them.

“That’s what you’ve seen in this particular game as well.  It was not an easy game.  If you look at how we played, especially in the first 90 minutes, I think we created enough chances to score a couple of goals.  We should have scored a couple, but we didn’t – and then you make it difficult for yourself, especially when you concede the first goal which we gave away.

“After that we had to work very hard to get the equaliser and eventually we did it.  And we searching for a second one as well, but we couldn’t get there, and so it went to extra-time.

“During the game a couple of injuries happened as well with Deniss Rakels and Liam Kelly who had to come off… we had to make a couple of substitutions as well which makes things difficult towards the end of the game when you would want to make a substitution. 

“We couldn’t keep up how we had played in the 90 minutes when it went to extra-time – spaces and gaps were getting bigger, and the opponent have got a quality team as well that can play football.  Eventually we had penalties where we could finish it off. 

“We played with a different team to the one that played on Saturday [against Brighton].  Every player has a lot of quality in the squad; they all need to play and make their minutes and this was an ideal moment for some of the other players at a certain level and in order to get their fitness in.

“Of course we are happy that we are through to the next round – on some occasions we played good football and created a couple of very good chances.  But if players are not playing weekly, it is very tiring for them to keep it up – especially if they have to play extra time as well.  But we are very happy with the end result.”

He was pleased that the Royals were able to hold their nerve in the shoot-out – they led through the second of Callum Harriott’s goals in extra-time, but a 118th-minute strike from Kabongo Tshimanga was a late blow.

“Penalties is always a lottery,” he continued.  “It is often the team that has the strongest nerves that win.

“If you concede an equaliser that late, you may have been thinking already that you have won the game, and that can put you in a bad spell as well in your mind.

“But eventually the players did very well in the end, as did Anssi [Jaakkola] by saving his penalty.”

The gaffer also paid tribute to two of his players in particular – Liam Kelly, whose senior debut was brought to an end by a clash of heads, and Callum Harriott, who netted two cracking goals on the night.

“If you look at the qualities that Liam has, he is a great player and he has great technique on the ball and great passing as well – which you saw when he was on the pitch,” said Jaap.  “Unfortunately he had to go off because of the injury to his face.

“They were two great goals from Callum – the first was a great shot from the edge of the box, and for the second one, we know his quality – he is a great dribbler with the ball and he created space for himself to score.”

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