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"We had to work hard for that one!"

28 January 2017

Jaap Stam gave his post-match reaction to a second successive home win within a week

Games against teams led by Neil Warnock often end up being hard fought battles - and this afternoon's was no different as the Royals held onto a 2-1 lead and earned three valuable points through no little hard work and two moments of magic.

"It was a difficult game," manager Jaap Stam admitted after the final whistle. "In the second half we really needed to work for it and it was tough.

"The space between the lines was not big enough for us to exploit, but we had a lot of possession. The pitch isn't very good as we know, so that makes it difficult for us to play how we want to play - we are having to concentrate more on our first touches, rather than looking how to play it forward. And if we have to take a couple more touches, it gives the opposition a split second extra to get close to you or close that gap.

"In the second half especially, we were losing the ball too quick and when they won it, they played the ball very direct up front to their big, strong strikers who can make it very difficult for you.

"We knew Cardiff were going to give everything - they need their points as well, so they set up very compact, making sure they didn't give us any space to play it through. We've played against a few teams like that now - two weeks ago here QPR played in the same way.

"We didn't play at our best and we didn't make the right choices all the time. But today we got the three points and we worked very hard for them."

Both goals came from special moments of real quality from within the Royals ranks - Garath McCleary's backheel setting up Swift for the first, then Kermorgant's set piece skill securing the win. The Royals retake third place in the Championship with that win and, with 52 points accrued, it matches the tally we picked up throughout the whole of 2015-16.

"Garath has quality and it's important for a player to have the ability to change his mind at the last moment in the sense of taking a shot or playing it back. And Garath did that, putting one of his teammates in a position to score.

"And Yann has been very important for us in everything he has been doing this season - we know he's also got the ability to score free-kicks like that and thankfully he did today.

"The teams around us are very close, so it was good to keep the momentum going and it was a very important win in terms of the position we're in.

"You could see the players were a bit tired after Tuesday and there were a few niggles out there - but they kept fighting and in this league, against teams like this, three points are never going to come easy. But we got stuck in and got the win."

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