Date: 24th February 2008 at 4:14pm
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The thoughts of Martin O’Neill and Steve Coppell following our 2-1 away victory.

As you can imagine O’Neill is overjoyed with both the points and the performance today and is positively beaming on the official site.

‘We played some great stuff today,’ is quite an under statement. The margin could’ve been far greater had we not fell asleep and allowed Shorey to claw some pride back in injury time, and that’s without considering Barry’s missed penalty.

Today was more about the result than anything, we needed another 3 points if we are serious about wanting Europe and that’s exactly what we got.

‘We were great. I felt that even allowing for the penalty miss there were goals in us today. We looked a constant threat and we’ve got some players at the top of their form.

‘It was delightful and we deserved to win the game, yet interestingly had Marlon’s goal not gone in, we might have been hanging on.

‘I thought our play at times was really excellent. It was difficult to fault anybody, especially in the second-half when we were very, very strong indeed.’

No doubt a well natured joke at Coppell’s expense given his comments about our last match, set pieces and unfair goals given by referees, Martin continued:

‘The build-up to Ashley’s goal was exceptional – and not a set-piece in sight!

‘It was great from Martin and Curtis dealing with a difficult ball. There was a delightful little bit of interplay between Nigel and Gareth. Gareth got it wide and we then got a wee bit of luck as the Reading player sold himself a little bit and allowed Gabby to come in to find Ashley.

‘Having said all of that, Ashley still has to put the ball in the net. He had to control it and as the goalkeeper came off his line, he had to direct it into the net. It was a brilliant goal.’

Finishing off is verdict, O’Neill again praised Harewood, and spoke of how he has won the crowd over in recent times given his attitude and desire to work hard for the team, and not himself.

‘Then the second goal came along. Marlon’s impact has just been fantastic and the crowd have really taken to him – he’s taken to them too and we’re running short of shirts because he keeps throwing them into the crowd!’

Steve Coppell has agreed it was a bad day at the office, and with Reading’s safety in question he knows their fortunes have to change rapidly. Speaking after the match to SSN he said:

“I think today if you’d looked at the league table before the game, you’re conclusion after the game would be that there’s a team going for Europe and a team in the bottom three so the difference was there.

“They had the edge, but from a fight perspective, from an effort perspective, we couldn’t ask for anymore. We just need to be better, we need to be more competitive and we need to push these teams a little bit closer.

“When you’re down at the bottom you clutch at things that can give you a little boost, to change your form.

“Hopefully Nicky Shorey’s consolation goal can do that as we need something against the clubs that are with us in the mini-league at the bottom now.”

Not one to resist a moan though, and having ‘no set pieces’ to whinge about per se, Coppell saved his best comments for the penalty.

“The penalty was an absolute nonsense and I thought it was poetic justice that Barry missed the kick.”

From my perspective, maybe it’s poetic justice that Reading missed out on the points. Sometimes it’s not always the fault or errors of others, you have to question your own team.