Reading manager Paul Ince admitted that his players were “out on their feet” as they struggled to hold on to a slender lead near the end of their 1-0 Championship victory over Middlesbrough.
Tyrese Fornah, the on-loan Nottingham Forest midfielder, broke the deadlock in the 28th minute when he drove home a powerful 20-yard shot on the half-volley.
Though Middlesbrough dominated much of the second half, as Reading protected their lead, they offered only a limited goal threat.
It was Reading’s third successive home win, moving them up to third place in the Championship table, and came after an impressive 3-0 victory over Blackburn in midweek.
“I’m happy with the performance but it was a different type of performance from that on Wednesday,” Ince said.
“It was sort of backs-to-the-wall stuff today and I kind of half-expected that because the lads had put in such a shift against Blackburn.
“And we’re more or less talking about the same players. I knew that, after 60-65 minutes, we’d probably be dead on our feet.
“It was more today about unity, spirit and sticking together, people making blocks. I thought… ‘Oh, here we go. We’re going to throw it away’.
“But that’s what it takes and just shows you the spirit that we’ve got at this club and in this changing room.
“Wednesday was amazing but today was probably even better because of the circumstances. Because we were out on our feet.
“And when you’re out on your feet, subconsciously, you start dropping deep and you start making mistakes.
“Everyone gets nervous, apprehensive and agitated. But I was so proud to go from Wednesday night to this sort of display.”
Ince also praised match-winner Fornah, who scored his first career goal.
“I’m always on Ty’s case,” Ince, the former Manchester United midfielder, said. “Because, when I was 22, Bryan Robson and Mark Hughes were always on my case.
“I know Tyrese can be a top player. In the last two games, he’s been absolutely outstanding.”
Middlesbrough are now winless in five league outings and sit second from bottom in the Championship.
Boro manager Chris Wilder said: “We had all the ball in the second half but it was all too little, too late.
“The match started at three o’clock, not four o’clock. There was no spark about us, no intensity about us. I wasn’t sitting there enjoying that.
“Nobody wanted to risk a pass going forward, they just wanted to keep the ball.
“Playing against a team like that, you have to move the ball quickly. Or you have to move higher up the pitch.
“We weren’t ambitious, we were slow, we were ponderous.
“It was as if their goal didn’t really matter. We just thought that what we’ll do is look like this really technical, pretty side that just keeps hold of the ball and gets in a thousand passes.
“But you just go from side to side and backwards.
“Fair play to Reading. They did enough to win a game of football.
“But it’s possibly one of the most disappointing afternoons that I’ve had since I became Boro manager.”
Wilder confirmed that Boro are hoping to sign Rodrigo Muniz, Fulham’s Brazilian striker, this weekend.
“I think it’s imminent,” Wilder said.
Muniz watched the game from the stands at the SCL Stadium.
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