Reading interim manager Paul Ince admitted that he was exhausted after his side’s tense 2-1 Championship victory over Stoke at the SCL Stadium.
Skipper Michael Morrison gave Reading an early lead, scoring at the second attempt from close range, but Stoke drew level just before the break through substitute Romaine Sawyers.
Reading regained their advantage in the 63rd minute – and secured the valuable victory – when a Lucas Joao header deflected off Stoke defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis into the net.
Ince’s side, unbeaten in four matches, now lie eight points clear of the relegation zone.
“I’m just drained,” Ince said. “I’m not used to this stuff anymore. I’m getting too old for all this.
“But it was so important to get the victory and I thought that we thoroughly deserved to win.
“We came out of the traps really quickly, we started well and looked really confident. That makes a change [from usual].
“And, at last, it was nice to get a goal first. We then tried to protect it, kept dropping off and allowed Stoke back into the game.
“We still couldn’t believe that it was 1-1 at half-time. We had to go again and show that spirit and belief that we have got at the moment.
“We got the next goal. Lucas [Joao] is claiming it but I don’t think that he’s going to get it.
“We mustn’t be complacent now, though. We can’t think that we’re safe yet, things can change so quickly in this division.”
Reading midfielder Tom Ince – Ince Snr’s son and a Stoke loanee – was unable to play after being refused permission by his parent club.
Junior Hoilett, his replacement, played a key role – with a well-flighted cross – for Morrison’s opening goal.
“It was disappointing [Stoke’s refusal],” Ince Snr said. “It is what it is but karma is a wonderful thing sometimes.”
Stoke manager Michael O’Neill said: “That was the agreement when the [loan] deal was done. I don’t see why it would change now.”
On the defeat, O’Neill added: “We didn’t play well enough. We didn’t start the game quick enough, we had too many players who were sluggish.
“We turned the ball over too much in the first half.
“But we got the goal just before half-time and, in the second half, you think that we’re going to go out and be better.
“We had chances but we didn’t take them and then we lose a poor goal off a corner and lose the game.
“Our performance certainly wasn’t at the level that we would like it to be but we still should have taken something from the game.
“Every game is still important. We’re not just seeing the season out.”
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