Reading’s John Swift has hailed the atmosphere at the Madejski Stadium last night, where his side hosted and lost 2-1 to Sheffield United in the FA Cup.
The Royals welcomed Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United last night, who finished 2nd in the Championship last season, and have gone on to become European contenders in the Premier League this time round.
But the divide between the two wasn’t all that evident. David McGoldrick put Sheffield United ahead after only two minutes but Reading held their own, kept to their game plan and were level by half-time through George Puscas.
The game needed extra-time to see who’d progress into the FA Cup quarter-finals, and it was Championship stalwart Billy Sharp who struck the Blades back into the lead, and onto the verge of what’d be an undeniable domestic success for Wilder.
Speaking to www.readingfc.co.uk after the game, Swift held high-praise for his teammates:
“It was good, but we obviously kicked ourselves in the teeth a bit with the early goal. But after that, we pulled ourselves together and put in a really good performance for us, playing against a Premier League team with most of their players who play week in, week out in the league.
“It was just a bit gutting that we conceded late on and we ended up losing the game. The early goal was a bit of a reality check – we were playing against a top team!”
When McGoldrick headed Sheffield United into the lead, it looked as though Reading could crumble, and go on to lose the game by a larger margin. But to their credit, they didn’t let it phase them, and Mark Bowen would’ve been delighted to go in at half-time on level terms.
“We had to really switch on after that,” said Swift of United’s early opener. “We settled down and started playing some good football. It was an obvious penalty for us and Puscas put it away really well. From there, we pushed on really well.
“We were a bit disappointed because we know we played really well. We definitely deserved to go to penalties at least to give ourselves a chance. But it is what it is. It was a good all-round performance, but we’ve got the league to take that into now.”
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Swift, 24, has been one of Reading’s stand-out performers this season. He’s proved a real creative threat in midfield with nine assists and five goals in the Championship so far.
Of late though, Swift has come under some scrutiny for his dwindling form. Last night though, he looked to be back at his pragmatic best:
“The atmosphere was really good,” explained Swift. “I was playing a bit deeper, there was a point in the game where he had just scored and you could really hear all our fans.
“It honestly does make a difference and push you on that little bit more. Then to get the round of applause coming off the pitch at the end too, losing the game and still having most of the fans there to show you support knowing you’ve worked hard and the team has put in a good performance.”
Reading, overall, have had a fairly decent season. Looking back at the state of the club when Jose Gomes was sacked, to say they’ve reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, look to be safe from relegation and have some quality, improving players in their ranks – there’s a lot to look forward to.
Last night was as hard-fought a performance as any under Bowen, and Reading will need a few more of them to confirm their Championship status into the next.