Full-back looks back at win against ForestWhen Garath McCleary scored his fourth of the season against Nottingham Forest on Saturday – where he had spent four years as a player, after joining from non-League side Bromley – he kept his celebrations to a minimum.
It was understandable though that another former resident at the City Ground, Chris Gunter, was a little more enthusiastic when he notched our second… as it was just his fifth competitive goal of his professional career!
The full-back is known for doing more of the legwork for the Royals than he is for his goalscoring exploits – but his firm finish against Forest was a cracker of a strike…
“I didn’t know what was going on!” said Gunter with a smile. “I had a fantastic time at Nottingham Forest, and certainly the celebration was nothing against them – it was more shock than anything!
“The ball fell to me and I managed to score; that’s the way football works sometimes. Two former players scoring – I’m sure the Forest fans will be saying that. Whoever scores, it was important that we won the game… but I’ll certainly take it, because they don’t come around too often!
“It came off the studs of one of their players and it just fell nicely. I carried on my run to almost try and distract one of their players and leave Garath one-on-one – it happened to just fall to me. I would say it was a good finish, but I was that close that it would have been harder to miss it! But I’ll take it and try and enjoy it a little bit as it doesn’t happen too often.
“It’s a nice feeling and one I don’t get very often. It was a good win for us; it moves us up the table a little bit and it’s back to back wins – so we’ll move onto next week now.”
And he underlined the importance of that result, and registering another three points on our patch.
Aston Villa were the ones who ended our unbeaten run at Madejski Stadium – but a 2-0 win against Forest could be the start of a new run.
“It was important – we needed to bounce back from losing our last home game, where we lost our unbeaten run here,” he explained. “Back to back wins in the league are important for us – it wasn’t an absolutely fantastic display, but we scored two goals and kept a clean sheet. So we’ll take it and move on.
“We’ve set high standards in terms of what we do on the ball in possession this season. We’re not always going to reach those, and it’s important that when we don’t, we find a different way to win. There were some good bits of play but overall we could have done better.
“But it’s nice to come away with a win and say that really – there are times in the season when you play really well and you feel like you don’t get the rewards that you deserve. So we’ll take not playing fantastically and winning the game… but obviously we’ll be looking at it and making sure that we do improve, because you can’t go through a whole season picking up points without performance.
“It is important in this league to keep clean sheets. A lot of the games we’re involved in are quite tight; I don’t think we’ve won by two goals many times this season. The longer we can keep the goal out of the net, it just takes one or two chances then.
“And with the players we’ve got going forward and the way we play, we think we’ll always be able to nick a goal or get a chance. That’s why it’s important to get clean sheets – and I thought today the back four and Ali in goal were fantastic. We worked hard as a team for that and everyone takes pride in it.”