Mark Bowen praised his Reading players after they showed “enormous character” to pull off a surprise 2-1 win at play-off hopefuls Fulham.
Ivan Cavaleiro scored shortly after coming off the bench in the second half, but it was enough as goals from John Swift and Charlie Adam earned the Royals victory.
Reading’s first win on New Year’s Day since 2007 means they are now just five points away from the top six following a slow start to their season.
Bowen said: “It’s a difficult place to come. We knew the way the game was going to pan out, of being under a lot of pressure, which we were.
“Fulham are a very, very good side but we took our goals very well and then showed enormous character, which we’ve certainly been doing since I walked in the door.
“I’m actually disappointed we conceded a goal after the run we’ve been on (four consecutive clean sheets), but we’re in a good place now in terms of the confidence of the group and the understanding that we’ve got with each other and how we want to go about our business.
“Again, it paid off.”
Bowen, who took over from Jose Gomes in October, was also full of praise for Swift after he scored his third goal in as many games.
“He’s a top, top player and I really mean that,” Bowen said. “We missed him. He had a groin injury, I think it was, and we missed him for about four or five weeks last month.
“We really did miss him because he’s a calming influence on the pitch when he receives the ball, and he’s getting into good areas on the pitch as well to get his goals and make a real difference for us.”
The Royals boss also gave credit to goalkeeper Rafael Cabral, who produced several important stops to keep out a Cottagers side desperate to claim a point.
The Brazilian produced a stunning triple save in the first half before tipping an Aleksandar Mitrovic header onto the crossbar in stoppage time to help secure all three points.
Bowen said: “He’s done it week in, week out, game in and game out for us. He’s got unbelievable reflexes and spring. He’s obviously played at a very high level and we’re lucky to have him.”
Reading are now unbeaten in their last six league games, which includes a four-match winning run.
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