Stam calmly reflects on thrilling victory over a fellow play-off contender“It was nice when we scored that second one!” the Royals boss smiled as he spoke immediately after a tense, nervy but exciting end to a valuable win at Hillsborough on Friday night.
“It was a tense game, a tough game with the home crowd behind good opposition, a team who are fighting for a top six place like us. So we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“It was a very big game. And in how we played, how we performed, how we have been working together this week, the players deserve a big compliment.
“The whole week after the defeat at Preston, we have been speaking about what we need to improve upon, what we need to do better.
“Normally, if we press very high up the pitch, go forward and try to win that ball early, sometimes by doing that, we have been open and you can get caught on the break – it has happened to us in a couple of games now.
“So we spoke about if we can press forward than we should do it…but if it’s not possible, we can sit back a bit and the wingers can drop in a bit as well.
“But for that to work, everybody needed to do their job – and everybody did their job very well today. They worked very hard defensively to keep that clean sheet.
“It wasn’t an easy game – they had their fair share of chances as well and Ali made some great saves. But if you play against the top sides in the Championship, it’s going to be hard.
“It has been a fight tonight and I’m very proud with how they worked for the result.”
The Royals leapfrogged Leeds to climb to fourth place in the league with Friday night’s nail-biting win, but the manager was well aware that more work is needed if a play-off place is to be our reward at the end of the last eight games of the campaign.
“The players want to stay up there, because it would be a real shame if we got knocked out of the top six at this stage of the season.
“And this is a result that gives the players extra motivation and even more self-confidence in what they can achieve by doing certain things on the pitch.
“Of course we’ll try to keep that up until the end of the season, but they are all big games now. It would be nice as a manager to have an easy one, where I can just sit on the bench and enjoy it…but we have Leeds at home next, another tough game!
“For now though, the international break is here. And if you have a win, considering where we are in the league and beating a team like Sheffield Wednesday, when you have two weeks without a fixture, it’s always nice. It will be much easier to enjoy these next two weeks.”