Reading manager Veljko Paunovic has hailed winger Ovie Ejaria for his performance and goals against Fulham after the Royals 2-1 win at Craven Cottage, with the Serbian speaking to Berkshire Live after the game.
The 23-year-old proved to be crucial in yesterday afternoon’s victory, opening the scoring with a curling effort from outside the box in the first half before making it two at the start of the second period with impressive close control and an exquisite finish to match.
Although Rodrigo Muniz was able to get one back for the home side in the latter stages of the game, Reading held out in the end with Josh Laurent, shot-stopper Luke Southwood and goalscorer Ovie Ejaria being singled out as the key men behind this upset.
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They went into the game with just two wins to their name in the opening seven league matches, with Fulham making a fast start back to life in the second tier and the likes of Harry Wilson and Aleksandar Mitrovic impressing in the early stages of 2021/22.
But it proved to be former Liverpool man Ejaria, previously criticised for his inconsistency, who stepped up to the plate to be the hero for the Royals.
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This comes as no surprise to his boss Veljko Paunovic, who has been monitoring the 23-year-old in training and has seen him produce similar at the Championship side’s training complex at Bearwood.
In his post-match press conference after the game, the 44-year-old said: “Ovie (Ejaria) had an amazing performance. His execution was fantastic.
“We see it in training many times and we encourage him to do it more often in games.
“It was more difficult in this game because our game plan was asking a lot of the attacking players to work defensively, but every time we gave the ball to him, Halilovic, Swift, Hoilett…there was some excitement and they were very clinical in execution.
“His talent doesn’t surprise me. I see it often but we need to work out how to bring the ball to him more in the final third, and the other guys because it has to be more often so we can have similar performances.”
Ovie Ejaria has always been a very talented individual, something Reading fans could see as soon as he arrived on loan from Liverpool in the second half of the 2018/19 campaign.
He was one of five loanees who helped to keep the club afloat in the Championship under Jose Gomes in the second half of that season, before doing reasonably well again in 2019/20.
The winger finally signed permanently last summer, and despite showing flashes of real quality, he failed to show consistency. This is probably the only thing that has prevented him from becoming a Premier League player to this date, because his skill and ability to pick a pass is up there with some of the best players in the Championship.
If he can regain his consistency, he could become just as much of a key player for Reading than John Swift, who took his goal contributions tally up to 11 yesterday after recording an assist for Ejaria’s first goal in west London yesterday.
Ejaria seems like a confidence player, which may potentially hold him back throughout the rest of his career, but there’s no doubt he has the potential to play in the top flight at some point in the future, with or without his current club.