“I’m really pleased with the defensive effort, with the shape of the team – and we’ll win games in the Championship playing like that, no question.”
Paul Clement was full of praise for his Reading side, after they put in a battling performance to come from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw against Turkish giants, Beşiktaş on Tuesday night.
After falling to a two-goal deficit, Sam Smith capitalised on a defensive error to pull a goal back heading into the final 10 minutes, before Marc McNulty scored his first goal in Reading colours - sliding in from close range to latch on to a Sone Aluko cross.
The Royals' performances have steadily improved throughout pre-season, and Clement is sure that a showing similar to Tuesday night will result in plenty of points once the Championship starts again.
“I’m happy with the outcome in terms of performance and the result as well because we’ve come up against a really good outfit," the Royals' manager said.
“They play technical football, they have good players, they’re athletic – we were under a lot of pressure at times.
“We defended resiliently, we were disappointed to go a goal behind but then we had a brilliant chance to go 1-1 with McNulty, then having gone two behind the players could have just folded.
“The players were tired, they had to do a lot of defending, and at that point they grabbed the opportunity and went for it.
“I think we deserved our goal to get it to 2-1, they pushed to the very end and we snatched a last-gasp equaliser.
“There were lots of positives from tonight and we’re moving in the right direction, 100 per cent. We made some changes and got some fresh legs on at the end, and it’s a great sign of mental toughness that, at 2-0 down against brilliant opposition, you keep going, you’ve still got belief and we got back in it.
“Sam Smith has scored a couple of goals in pre-season, that’s good for him, and Marc McNulty scored his first for the club, albeit in a friendly game but that’s also good."
Having now passed the half-way point of their pre-season programme, Clement is happy with how his preparations with the squad are taking shape ahead of the curtain-raiser against Derby County in a fortnight's time.
“I’ve got no doubt that we’re going to be ready for the start of the season," he explained. "We’ve still got another two-and-a-half weeks, we’ve got another really good game on Friday against Rubin Kazan.
“Then we’ve got lots more training sessions and a final game against Crystal Palace next week, and we’ll be good to go.”