Royals stopper Sam Walker was tending the Reading net on Saturday when we registered a third win in four games at Madejski Stadium against Bristol City – and since making the step up to the Championship, he’s learned all about how the small moments can have big impacts on the results at this level.
One of those moments came towards the end of proceedings last weekend - in the final few minutes, Walker produced an instinctive near-post stop to keep our 3-2 lead intact as we held out for an important three points.
“This league is built on fine margins – the games are so competitive,” Walker said. “It’s about being on the right side of the key moments.
“Last Saturday, we were. Other times this season, we haven’t been. If we can maintain our consistency and concentration throughout the games to get on the right side of those key moments, we’ll be in a good place.
“For us, this weekend is another opportunity to go out at home, get three points, and for the first time this season get back-to-back wins. At any level that’s a huge thing to do.
“The win on Saturday has already bunched it up a bit at the bottom of the table, and another win will take us up the table a bit hopefully – and maybe drag some teams in too. It’s a big opportunity for us. We’ve trained well this week and we’re ready and raring to go.
“For the last two breaks we’ve had, we didn’t get the right result going into it. So it’d be nice to pick up back-to-back wins and have a real good feeling. It’d allow the lads who go away with their countries to go away with a good feeling, and the rest of us will stay here, train hard and well, and get ready for a busy December and January.”
Ipswich, bottom of the table, grabbed a point in their first game under new boss Paul Lambert last weekend. Walker isn’t expecting any kind of walkover, despite the Tractor Boys’ lowly place in the league table.
“Every game in this league is a test,” he continued. “Their new manager will be looking to instil spirit and grit in them, which is what you need in this league.
“There aren’t any easy games in this league, at all. They’ll come to us in confidence, with a new manager and having picked up a point last Saturday in a game where they were winning for a large part of the game.
“They’ll be a tough team, a tough test. We’ll be ready to match it.”
However the 90 minutes pans out on Saturday, the home support will be an important factor.
It proved that way last weekend as the Royals fans injected some extra energy when it was needed most.
“We play our part in that, first and foremost, in giving the fans that character and spirit that they want to see,” Walker said. “I felt that we did that on Saturday and the fans were outstanding for us.
“The support they gave us throughout the game, especially in that second period when it was backs-to-the-walls a bit after we got the goal – they were outstanding.
“As long as we can keep giving the passion that we need to show, we can work together and make Madejski a fortress.”