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Mental fortitude important, says Ali

12 March 2017

Goalkeeper reflects on defeat to Preston

The Royals suffered a setback in the form of a 3-0 defeat on Saturday at Deepdale – goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi feels the squad need to call on their experience and show their mental toughness in the final two months of the campaign.

Reading still occupy a play-off position, although there are other teams looking to break into the top six.  And Ali hopes that the side can channel the pressure in the right way to produce performances and results in the closing stages.

“It is important that we recover very quickly and show ourselves, and use the experience we have as a squad,” Ali said after the game.  “This is an important time for us now.

“We have to be strong mentally, and go into every game with desire and showing how important it is.  We have been in the top six for many weeks and we don’t want to let that get away from us easily.

“Fulham are winning their games, and they are pushing us, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds.  We have nine more games and we need to show ourselves better.

“Pressure is always there – we have to show that in a good way.  Today was really, really disappointing for everyone to lose the game, but we’ll go back to the training ground this week and get ready for Friday.”

The Royals had been commanding the play in Preston, but couldn’t break the deadlock.  And they were made to pay through some decisive attacks by the Lilywhites.

“It is very disappointing, especially considering the way we started the game,” Ali continued.  “We started very well and created some good chances in the first 30 minutes and we didn’t take them.

“We knew it would be hard to come here; Preston are hoping to push into the top six and they have had good performances here recently.  They took their chances – if you see the first two goals, it is about small details.

“From now on, every single game is important.  So to come away from home and to lose in the way that we did – we have to look at ourselves.  This time of the season is very important, and every point is very important.

“Today I didn’t think we showed the desire that we needed to win the game.  We know it has been a tough week with three games and a long journey here, but that isn’t an excuse for us to not show.

“We have a massive game on Friday now – we have Sheffield Wednesday and it’s a six-point game.  We need to put in a better performance than today.”

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