Playing more than 70 minutes with ten men is tough, especially against a side who were playing Premier League football last season and who remain renowned for keeping possession. But despite facing a mountain to climb, Royals boss José Gomes was proud of the character his side showed in the second half against Fulham this evening.
"It was a very difficult game – we knew that we would play a Premier League-quality team, with top players. High quality, a good offensive dynamic, and they can hold the ball with their technical ability.
"We prepared for the game very well and the players knew exactly what they should do. We started well and could have scored with a very good combination. But after one mistake, we conceded a goal.
"After that, with one player less, it was very hard to recover the ball when they moved it around and when they started getting possession by using the free corridors. We should have been more aggressive and had more defensive spirit in the first half with one player less, to try to recover the ball.
"In the second half, the attitude of my players was very good and we got that spirit, considering that we were playing against a team like Fulham - with Premier League players who know what to do with the ball - and with one player less. We shouldn’t have conceded the goal that we did with that mistake in the second half - the way that we defended and the character that they showed and how we played in the second half didn't deserve that."
The Royals boss gathered his team together on the pitch at the end of the game, bringing his players together to concentrate the minds on what lies ahead, a trip to Ashton Gate this weekend.
"It is hard. But we had very good spirit and very good character. That’s why at the end of the game I called all of the players together," he said.
"It is with this togetherness, this spirit and character that we can look to the future. Sometimes, even when we lose we can catch positive things.
"After the game, losing at home like we did today, the only thing to do was to catch the spirit that they showed with both hands.
"We need more consistency and to play the way that we want to for 90 minutes, and we will do it. Right now, we need to keep the spirit that we showed in the second half."