Goalkeeper on Robins win and test ahead in FulhamAli Al-Habsi was minutes away from registering five Championship games without conceding – that was until Gary O’Neil popped one in late on for Bristol City on Saturday.
Not that it mattered. The Robins’ deficit was halved, but they couldn’t get back on terms after Garath McCleary’s penalty rebound and Roy Beerens’ volley had Reading ahead in the first period.
Throughout that run of 446 minutes without needing to visit the back of the net, goalkeeper Ali has pulled off some stunning saves – including a remarkable stop to deny Bobby Reid in the first half. But he was full praise for the lines in front of him for showing their desire to provide a strong resistance.
“In the second half we had a good test from them – but I think the team showed themselves,” Ali said. “We defended really well for 90 minutes.
“We scored two goals in the first 20 minutes – it is difficult to keep that going all match. But I think we did what we wanted to. We had chances to score a third, but it is always difficult at 2-0 because if the other team scores with a big crowd behind them, they will push.
“That’s what they did and they scored towards the end which made it tough in the last few minutes. But on the other side you can see that it was a great performance, especially at the back. We defended really, really well.
“As a team, we need this – desire. To win five games in a row is great and we want to take it forward. We know that next week will be a tough game against Fulham but we will start working hard again straight away and look forward to it.
“The clean sheets don’t come from me – they come from all of the team. The team has been fantastic in these recent games and you can see the way we attack and defend.
“When the team is playing like this, you have to perform and be focused and make saves – that is what I have done to help the team. We are very happy – five games and one goal conceded is a great record.”
Next on the cards is a visit to Fulham – an opportunity to make it half a dozen wins in succession.
“We want to go there and make it something special,” continued the goalie. “We will take a big crowd, a lot of fans, and we need to enjoy it and work hard.
“We know that it is going to be a long season – it is not about the game against Fulham or the game after. We have 28 games left to play and we know how difficult a Championship season is.
“But we are enjoying how we are doing and we need to keep playing football in our way and just go there and see what happens. I think we can go and get a result – we are in a good position and we have to prove to every team that we deserve to be third.”