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Stam: “It became a battle!”

24 September 2016

Royals boss on beating the league leaders

Having played with ten men twice earlier in the week, Jaap Stam's side had to find a way to beat ten table-topping men at the Madejski this afternoon and came away with three points despite a spirited second half resurgence from David Wagner's Huddersfield side.

"It was a difficult one to be fair," Stam said after a nervy second period. "You hope, against ten men, the second half is going to be a bit easier than it was, that you're going to be able to control the game with a lot of possession - and from there create chances and score goals.

"And a couple of times we came close to scoring a second one, but our opponent did very well. We spoke about what to expect against ten men at half time - we knew it was going to be very hard to break them down, two banks of four and one up front.

"And against a side with a lot of quality in their team - we saw that in the video clips we reviewed in meetings before the game. And we didn't play our game in the second half, we started playing long balls as well, and it became a battle. At the end we were just hoping the ball didn't drop for them, and thankfully it didn't.

"This game was tight, but we won it. So I'm very happy with the three points of course. But from this game, there are a lot of points we can improve on.

"We needed to have better quality on the ball, we needed more movement, more runs in behind to create space for others, we needed to play at a higher pace.

"We gave them too much time to get the ball to their full backs and for them to put crosses in and create chances of their own. So we can do a lot better..but, as I say, we were up against a very good team.

"And it's good if you play against sides with a lot of quality, because then you need to improve yourself."

Throughout his post-match media, the manager was reminded of the fact his side are enjoying an unbeaten run that has now extended to eight games - and which has pushed Reading into fourth place in the league ladder and into the Fourth Round of the EFL Cup. But Stam was reluctant to look beyond a trip to Griffin Park on Tuesday.

"We're not thinking abgout any unbeaten run, we're looking from game to game - and it's not going to be easy. We have a difficult game at Brentford for example on Tuesday.

"The players have been working very hard, playing two games this week with ten men - so it's not easy to keep on playing how you want to in every single game. We are not working from Saturday to Saturday - it's Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday for weeks now.

"It would be nice to have a week between two games, to work on things with the squad. But it's also always nice to play games, everybody is very eager to play. The subs - they're not happy when they're on the bench. And that's what you want to create in a squad.

"We're still getting the results though, which is good. But there's a long way to go. Everything is going okay, but in this division you know it can change in a second, playing against good sides every game. And you know that, during the course of the season, we will have difficult spells as well.

"When that happens, you need to know how to get back up again and win your games again. That will be a learning curve for us as well because we have a lot of new players, many who haven't been playing in this league before now. So it's new for everybody. But up til now we've kept it up and it's going well."

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