Reading manager Paul Ince hailed his side as “incredible in every department” during the second half of their 2-1 Championship victory over Stoke.
Lucas Joao, on his 29th birthday, gave the Royals a second-minute lead when he took advantage of sloppy defensive play from the visitors.
Stoke equalised five minutes before the break through a close-range Ben Wilmot effort but Reading regained their advantage through Joao’s 57th-minute penalty and held on comfortably for their fourth successive home league win this season.
“It’s just good to get a good performance,” Ince said. “As I’ve said to the players, it’s not about winning, it’s about performing.
“We performed today. That’s all you can ask for.
“You know with these players what they’re like, the spirit and the togetherness.
“And when we came out for the second half, they were incredible in every department. That’s so pleasing.
“With the first goal, it’s about time we got a gift. It’s about time we got something like that.
“We needed that because we looked a bit nervy at the start. That was unlike us because we normally start well at home.
“The goal settled us down and then we looked the team more likely to win the game.
“Shane Long should have scored to make it 2-0 and, for me, that would have been the game won.
“In the second half, we could have ended up 4-1 winners. There were a few chances that just wouldn’t fall for us.”
Stoke have picked up just one point from two matches since Alex Neil took over as manager a week ago.
He was particularly unhappy with Reading’s opening goal after errors by goalkeeper Jack Bonham and defender Aden Flint.
“Some things in football you just can’t legislate for,” Neil said. “We put a poor cross into their box, the goalie [Joe Lumley] collects it and punts it up the pitch.
“And from that point onwards it was just mistake after mistake. There’s not much you can do. You just watch it and think: ‘Wow’.
“For five minutes afterwards, you could see that that had affected us.
“It’s a bad trait that we’ve had for some time now, I don’t know whether it’s lack of confidence or lack of belief.
“But after that, we started to move the ball a little bit better and get into better areas.
“Our quality of crosses wasn’t great, though. Our movement in their box wasn’t particularly great, either. And we didn’t move the ball quick enough.
“When you do that, then it’s going to be a difficult day.
“We’ll just have to pick the bits out of the last two games. There’s a lot of work to do.”
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