Our win in Cardiff, the third straight victory of the league campaign since the opening day, required all sorts of qualities from the Royals. Skill and incisiveness to get two goals ahead, and the tenacity and spirit to see out the win after the Bluebirds got one back.
Defender Michael Morrison, scorer of the first goal, attributed the win to a renewed sense of camaraderie within the dressing room – a willingness to all fight for the same cause. And it’s only growing stronger with each victory.
“There’s a really good connection between the players now, everyone is moving in the right direction – all together,” said Morro.
“We have talked about communication and that being the glue within the team. We’ve had rules set to make sure that we connect – so that everyone’s not always on their phones! That’s a big part of everybody being friends, fighting for each other and fighting for the same vision.
“You can see that at the moment – when you get results, it only breeds more confidence and more connection and everyone pulling in the right direction. It’s brilliant to see and it’s a fantastic feeling to win three on the bounce.
“We have had to work hard in a really short space of times, and we’ve had a lot of meetings as well. The manager has been getting his point across to make sure that we play the way he wants us to, and that we’re effective in doing that.
“I think you can see a different style in our play, and possibly a different attitude when we haven’t got the ball. Arguably that’s what let us down last season in our consistency. There’s a real drive to make sure we’re aggressive when we lose the ball.
“Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent give us a really good balance in there and they’re dogged in the work that they do. They give the more attacking players like Michael Olise, Ovie Ejaria and Yakou Meite the freedom to move across the pitch and get into different spaces. They’ll probably be two unsung heroes of our season… but the centre-halves will appreciate them!”
Morrison’s goal, a thumping header from a Michael Olise free-kick out wide, put the Royals ahead less than two minutes after the second half began.
Lucas João netted a brilliant second for Reading, who were firmly in the ascendancy… but then they had to demonstrate a totally different skill-set to see out the win after Lee Tomlin scrambled in the pieces from a Cardiff corner. It needed a perfect attitude from the Royals to get through the late stages of the 90, plus a lengthy stint of added time.
“We’re looking dangerous from set pieces,” Morrison continued. “There is a confidence that we can score when we take them, and we’ve worked on those wide balls before the weekend. I was glad to get in there… I saw a bit of space and popped up. I had to stretch a bit – I can’t remember scoring too many diving headers!
“There are a lot of threats in there – the opponents have to look at other players to mark too. And Michael Olise put a really good ball in, so it’s good for him to get another assist.
“We showed two sides of our game. We were patient with the ball in the first half. And then when I scored, the game opens up a bit and once it gets a bit stretched it is hard to play against us.
“Lucas got one-on-one with their defender, and he does what he does. He’s got great feet and he’s really tricky to mark. I was really pleased that he scored again.
“Then for the last 10 or 15 minutes, we really had to battle and show a different side of ourselves. And nine minutes of added time seemed a lot! But when you look back at all the injuries and stoppages in play, you can understand it.
“We were quite comfortable up until they scored. You know they’ll be a threat from set pieces so we tried to keep them as far up the pitch as we could, but inevitably they will go a bit longer and you have to sit in a bit deeper. But the lads who came on played their part too.”