Defender gives post-match reaction after beating RobinsRoyals defender Jake Cooper got his first Championship start of the season against Bristol City – and a Man of the Match performance helped Reading shut out the Robins, and built the base for a stoppage-time winner by Nick Blackman.
The 20-year-old has had to be patient in waiting for his opportunity – with three experienced colleagues in Michael Hector, Paul McShane and Anton Ferdinand – but he revealed that he had been steeling himself in preparation for that opportunity to come. He started alongside captain McShane, but had a different centre-half partner in Ferdinand after the skipper withdrew through injury.
“I just wanted to come in and help the boys – we wanted to get back to winning ways and we’re all delighted that we could make that happen today,” he said after the final whistle, reflecting on the game.
“We were delighted – we felt that performances have been good but results haven’t quite gone our way in the last couple of weeks. Today it showed that if we kept it tight at the back, we can wait all game – we know we’re going to get a chance. We showed that we can score whatever minute of the game and still get that win.
“I know I need to be patient, and the players have played well this season. I was waiting for my opportunity and I knew that it would come at some point. I was just making sure that I was as ready as possible. I’ve been working hard on the training ground to make sure that I was ready and hopefully today I showed that that was the case.
“It shows how good our squad is when a player gets injured and another player can come on and we can still maintain a good performance. We kept a clean sheet today with players missing, and I think that’s a good sign to show how strong our squad is.
“I have a good relationship with the new manager – I wanted to show him what I could do and I was happy that he gave me a chance today. He relied on me and I wanted to do him proud, so hopefully he was happy with how I was.”
The youngster helped to nullify the firepower of Jonathan Kodjia – who has an impressive return of nine Championship goals this season – and he was pleased with the showing from the group as a whole.
Cooper continued: “You know you’re going to come up against good strikers in this league – all teams have good strikers and it’s about playing your own game and dealing with those threats. We looked at their team and I felt I could deal with those threats, and it showed.
“We have good team spirit. Things haven’t quite been going our way but we’ve stuck together and we’ve shown how much we are a team – you could see us celebrating with one another and I think we do have a good team bond. That gives us strength going into the next few games.”