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“Commitment, quality and communication”

17 September 2016

Stam gives his reaction to a game of two contrasting halves

After half an hour, everything was going to plan. Two goals to the good and bossing their opponents, Jaap Stam's side were comfortable in their lead and threatening to score more and more. But a red card for Garath McCleary gave the travelling fans and the Royals boss a nervous hour that thankfully ended in victory courtesy of a superb rear guard action at Oakwell.

"We started very well, threatening up front. We kept good possession, created very good chances, scored two goals - we were dominating the game.

"At that time we still had eleven on the pitch. But when Garath got sent off, it became a totally different game. You cannot play the possession game you want to, so we chose to play with a 4-4-1 system. And you need to defend.

"Barnsley are in form and are a very good side, they have quality especially on the wings, they could beat a man and put crosses in. And we had to be very sharp to defend the crosses, make every header - and that's what we did.

"It can be dangerous still and you need some luck in those situations, but I think overall we worked very hard - we didn't give a lot of clear cut chances away. And in the end, we won. Which is very important."

McCleary had scored the opening goal - converting a saved penalty within the opening ten minutes - and Swift had scored a stunning second as the Royals threatened to run away with the game. But McCleary's red card came following a push on Conor Hourihane who was bent down berating an injured Danny Williams at the time.

"It was a reaction to the tackle," the manager said. "He needs to be more clever in situations like that. But he knows what he's done, he's feeling guilty for the team.

I apologise profusely. I was defending DW & had head loss which played into their hands. The boys done excellent for the remaining 60mins...

— Garath McCleary (@gmccleary12) September 17, 2016
"He was playing a fantastic game until then. But the red card made it more difficult for the team. We'll talk about that a little bit more of course.

"We played in a different style of play with ten men, we needed to defend instead of having the ball like we're used to. And in a way it's good for them in this learning period...

"...we're building a team and learning how we want to play. Defending is part of that. And they've shown today they can do that.

"You need to have commitment, you need to show you can work together, you need to have communication - and with the quality that we have at the back you can make it very difficult for the team with eleven men. And they did very well.

"It's never easy, playing for 55 minutes with ten men. And there were some stressful moments - if the ball drops in the box then it's a question of who gets there first. Most of the time it was us, so we could knock it away.

"They gave us a hard time in the second half, but I think we coped with it it well. And I'm very pleased with the three points."

The Royals move up to seventh spot in the division and now go to Brighton in the EFL Cup ahead of a home game in the Championship next weekend - against league leaders Huddersfield Town.

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