A goal down at the break against Birmingham, with an uphill task ahead. But the Royals scaled the challenge to win 3-1 – leapfrogging the Blues in the process.
Matt Miazga got the ball rolling early in the second period, before Yakou Méïté grabbed the all-important second just minutes later to turn the game on its head.
Boss Mark Bowen was delighted with the way his side reacted in adversity to get the result from the trip to the Midlands.
“I thought that in the first half, we weren’t quite at it,” admitted Bowen. “That is quite understandable after the week we’ve had. We all say the right things – that we have to start fast and get the mentality right after putting in such a shift against Sheffield United on Tuesday.
“But we organised ourselves a bit better at half-time. And I said to the players after the game that today’s result was built on heart, guts and determination to finish the week off well and get the result.
“Goals change games. We got the first one with a good finish from Matt – and then I had a feeling, ‘we’ll win this’.
“The lads were determined. You look at little targets that you set yourself – and we had a mini-target today, after the week we have had, that we really wanted to finish on a positive. And we did.
“A special mention again for Michael Olise. In the first half, when players around him weren’t quite at it, for me he was a shining light in that first half. Wanting to get on the ball and wanting to play.
“Then looking into the back-end of the game, if I could have made six or seven subs then I would have – we have some tired legs out there, believe me. It was a case of seeing the game out when we did. So I’m delighted.”
With the lead intact, the Royals dug in to ensure their hosts wouldn’t go level again – and instead wrapped it up with a well-taken goal by Pelé, his first for the club.
“Pelé can do that!” continued Bowen. “He can get into those situations – he nearly got one against Sheffield United in the week, and then when he got into that situation, one-against-one, I just felt a calmness.
“He’s a bright player and you could see that he could shape that ball into the bottom corner. And he did that really well.
“It was nice to have that third goal going into the final few minutes, where I couldn’t see things going wrong or them catching us.”
And the last special mention goes to the supporters – over 1,200 of which made the trip and whose support was rewarded with the win.
He continued: “Genuinely – and I feel like I say it every week! – but it did surprise me when I came out. I didn’t expect that many here.
“Their vocal support is very much appreciated and I know the lads feel the same. They cheered us all the way.
“We’ve got a decent record away from home, and it’s nice to send them back to Reading with the three points in the bag.”