Royals boss delighted with committed second half performanceThe Royals conceded their first goal in 446 minutes of Championship football late on, but manager Jaap Stam was full of praise for a defensive performance that earned his side their fifth successive win in the league this afternoon.
First half goals from Garath McCleary and Roy Beerens had handed the hosts a two-goal cushion but it took some superb wholehearted defending to hold off Lee Johnson's impressive Bristol City side as they looked to stage a second half comeback.
"We defended very well in the second half - the commitment shown by the back four or five was outstanding," he said after the win.
"We demonstrated that we can not only attack and play combination football as a team, but that we can defend as well... as a team.
"The worked very hard for that win, they threw their bodies in front of shots, they got blocks in, they won a lot of battles in the air - and it's not easy when you're playing against two tall strikers, when we haven't got the tallest squad.
"We were playing the ball back to Ali a bit too much which allowed them to put us under more and more pressure, when sometimes you need to go forward to defend even better. Attack is the often best form of defence.
"And if you concede one near the end, it's always going to be a bit nervy in the last few minutes. But I'm very happy with how we performed defensively."
Frustratingly, the Royals will be without Liam Moore for next weekend's trip to Fulham after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season, but both he and skipper Paul McShane received a lot of plaudits from the media who sat speaking to the Royals boss after the final whistle.
"You need to have winners in your team to get results and do well. And Paul is that type of player - he is one of the first out onto the pitch, he pushes other players on to do well...and you can see in how he defends, he likes it!
"He loves to fight his battles and put himself in front of the ball with the shots. He's been outstanding for the team all season and he's a real leader as well. It is good to have players like Paul in the squad.
"And Liam is doing an outstanding job, both on the ball and defensively. The two of them are always talking before the game, keeping everybody else on their toes, making sure as a team we keep performing, making sure we don't concede goals, making sure we keep winning games. And you need players pushing others to stay sharp.
"We can't control every game and we were playing a good side with a certain quality and physique today. Teams will make it difficult for us at times - we know that. You always want to show your attacking side in matches, but today we showed our defensive side. And I have to compliment the guys in the dressing room for that.
"Five wins in a row is a good feeling and good for the confidence. So we look forward to the next one."
Tickets for next weekend's trip to Craven Cottage are selling fast - our initial allocation of 2,777 has gone which has meant an additional allocation going on sale at the end of last week. And next up at Madejski Stadium we face Sheffield Wednesday in our last home game before Christmas. Don't miss out and pick up a ticket for two weeks' time!