“You need have three points from these games,” said Reading manager Jaap Stam after the Royals drew 1-1 with the 10 men of visiting Fulham. “We started very aggressively and that’s why they had the red card – so we were playing basically 90 minutes against 10 men.”
Tomas Kalas was dismissed after less than 40 seconds of the fixture – dragging back Modou Barrow as the Gambian made a beeline for goal.
And Reading’s control over the fixture was clear – and eventually rewarded through Liam Kelly’s third goal in two games. But former Royal Lucas Piazon picked off a pass and snatched a point with a composed finish in the final few minutes of the match.
“Playing against 10 is not easy – you know that the opposition will have a certain setup and they will make spaces very small, and they will look for the counter attack with the quality players that they have,” he continued. “You need to maintain and keep possession and wait for those moments when you can score.
“That happened in the second half – spaces opened up and you can score a goal with Liam Kelly. And after that, there’s basically nothing going on because we’re keeping control of the game and waiting for that second, and at least trying not to concede when they come out.”
“They warned us a couple of times on the counter, especially from corners, but we gave that goal away ourselves from the ball that was played to the other side – it wasn’t a good touch, but it got intercepted and they scored the equaliser, which is very, very disappointed.
“We needed to get three points, and it didn’t happen. And that’s frustrating.”
Despite the frustration of not taking the three points, Jaap was happy with the way that the team conducted themselves and controlled the game against a quality opponent… but he hoped to see a sharper cutting edge in the final third.
“About the game itself, you can say that the players were very aggressive and wanted to win this game,” Jaap continued. “But after a game like this, and seeing how we played and the work that we put in, you need to give yourselves those three points.
“We are aware of the quality players they have – we’ve spoken about it, we’ve seen clips. And we’ve played them many times. We know about their quality and you can’t give them the opportunity to score because they know how to deal with that.
“Your setup is going to be a bit different – especially in possession. We wanted to press them very high up the pitch and aggressively – we succeeded in doing that because we won the ball and Mo would have gone to goal, but he was tripped and their player got the red card.
“But because they played in a different way, and a bit deeper than they normally would when they play 11 v 11, it makes it more difficult to play at certain times. But you need to do the right things. It’s not like we don’t know what to do – we’ve played against teams that have dropped in deep many, many times.
“It can be frustrating for people to watch, but you need to keep possession and wait for the balls in between or get down the sides to get the ball in to score.
“That’s what we tried to do. We spoke before the second half about that and we did it – we were very high up the pitch, but sometimes you need to be decisive in your finishing as well. We had occasions when we could have had a shot from close range but we waited a bit longer and people get closed down… and then you have to play it back again.
“When you’re playing in this league against a good side like Fulham, even with 10 men, you’re not going to get 15 or 20 chances. The couple that you have, you have to pull the trigger and finish it off.”
The next league fixture for the Royals will be again at home as we take on Aston Villa on Tuesday night 8pm kick-off! Get your tickets below!