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“We’re in the top six… we want to stay there!”

4 March 2017

Gaffer reflects on a triumph against Wolves

It wasn’t the purest of performances, but it took a battling effort from the boys at Madejski Stadium to ensure that the Royals grabbed a 12th home win of the season against visitors Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Yann Kermorgant’s improvised finish was pegged back almost immediately by Ben Marshall early in the second period – but skipper Paul McShane stepped up to the plate and headed home John Swift’s free-kick 12 minutes from time.

“We’re very happy with the three points,” reflected manager Jaap Stam after the final whistle. 

“In this period and with where we are in the league, going towards the end of the season, you need to win your points.  We’re in the top six and we want to stay up there.

“We know it’s going to be very hard.  Wolves came to get a result and they set up defensively in the first half.  And they grew in confidence when they got their equaliser in the second half, and they made it hard for us to defend in the box when they went forward.

“By not playing good football in the second half, we still scored from a free-kick – and that’s a quality as well.  We’ve got someone who can put the ball in the box with quality like Swifty, and we’ve got someone who can finish it off with a good header like McShane.

“So we’re very happy with the three points.  We would like to have a better feeling about the game overall and how we played, but at this moment and with where we are, points are very important.”

It took grit and determination to keep parity after Wolves levelled – the Midlands club began to grab all the loose balls and make inroads into the Royals area.

And so a bit of magic from captain Macca was needed.  Latching onto a delightful delivery from John Swift, the skipper’s goal earned the win.

“Sometimes we need to understand that if we have problems in keeping the ball and we’re trying to play out from the back, then sometimes it’s a better solution to play more directly up to Yann and try to win that second ball and then start playing,” continued the Royals boss.

“And the players need to see that themselves when they are in the game.  But the players have worked very hard and they work hard in every game, and it’s tough because the pitch is heavy.  But we got the result and that’s the most important thing today.

“You score that goal to go ahead, and you want to score even more to make it an easy game.  But they get one back straight after – they blocked the ball forward with a hand and I think the referee can give that as a hand-ball.  He didn’t do it, and I think we can still defend better.

“They scored that goal and it gave them confidence and they pressed us higher up the pitch.  Sometimes we have to be a bit more clever when the opponents are doing that.  We tried to keep on playing but couldn’t get into our game.

“So you need to take any opportunities you get when you get in front of their goal – even if that’s set pieces.  And we did that today, so we’re very happy with that.”

We’re back at it again on Tuesday and we’ll be welcoming plenty of supporters to Madejski Stadium for the game against high-flyers Newcastle.

Make sure you’re in on the action – click here to get your tickets!

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