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Ali explains mix of disappointment and pride

12 March 2016

Goalkeeper reflects on quarter-final exit

Reading’s FA Cup run was finally brought to an end at the quarter-final stage; Premier League outfit Crystal Palace were 2-0 winners on Friday night, striking twice in the final few minutes to break Reading hearts.

Goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, who was named as Man of the Match for a number of wonderful saves, admitted that the dressing room was hurting after being knocked out – but that the players were also proud of their achievements throughout the cup run, and for going so close against a talented Palace side.

“When you see the clock has six minutes remaining it, it’s very disappointing to concede,” said the goalkeeper.  “It’s always hard to dig in for the whole game and to lose this way is very disappointing.

“The feeling in the dressing room is very mixed – pride and disappointment.  But we need to push on and concentrate on the next few games. There’ll be some big games: Brighton, Cardiff and Hull City to name a few.

“Today everyone will have mixed feelings, they’ll be disappointed about the result but pleased with the performance.  We want to say thank you to the fans.  We have a few games left in the league, we need to concentrate and perform and get results.

“In the Cup we’ve been fantastic, even all the league games at home we’ve been good, we’ve been hard to beat. You know the Championship, you win five games in a row, who knows what can happen.

“Thank you for the support from the fans, all season.  It wasn’t a great start to the season for me; joining a new club is always difficult.  But now I’m really enjoying myself and when you have such fantastic fans behind you, you will perform.”

The game’s first goal came in the 86th minute – Jake Cooper was shown a second yellow as he was judged by the referee to have pulled down Yannick Bolasie in the area.  Al-Habsi got a hand to Yohan Cabaye’s penalty, but his down-the-middle drive had a bit too much behind it.

“I did my research on Cabaye; sometimes he goes right and sometimes down the middle,” said the stopper.  “I was close but not close enough.  It’s hard to know if it was a penalty, I couldn’t see it properly. 
“I had a chat with Jake Cooper after the game; he has to learn lessons from moments like this but he has been fantastic, he’s confident and getting stronger every day, and against big teams they give you lessons to learn and he will learn them.  I’m very confident that he will be a massive player for this club.”

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