READING FC’s goal-scoring hero Yann Kermorgant hailed an ‘unbelievable’ season after he blasted Royals into the play-off final last night (Tuesday).
The veteran striker took his goal-scoring tally to 19 for the campaign after he crashed a penalty kick past Fulham’s Marcus Bettinelli to secure a 1-0 win in front of an energetic crowd at Madejski Stadium.
Kermorgant heaped praise on Reading boss Jaap Stam for turning the club’s fortunes around after a lowly league finish under Steve Clarke and Brian McDermott last year.
The 35-year-old also slammed critics who have nit-picked at Stam’s credentials and playing style this season and insisted Reading deserve to be heading to Wembley.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement,” beamed Kermorgant.
“Especially when you look at what we’ve come from. Last season was a very difficult one.
“But we’ve had lots of changes, a new manager, new players, a different style of play, in fact almost everything at the club is new.”
The powerful striker was tussling with his man when the ball caught Cottagers’ defender Tomas Kalas on the arm. Referee Martin Atkinson had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
With neither side boasting a good record from 12-yards this season, it was Kermorgant who stepped up to the mantle.
The 35-year-old made no mistake, firing hard and low past the helpless Bettinelli.
But speaking after the thrilling victory, Kermorgant insisted Reading’s penalty record was the last thing on his mind.
“Stats are stats,” he stated.
“It’s always different on the day. We could have had a penalty shootout and everyone could have scored.
“We didn’t want to get to that, we wanted to get the win before. It was a great performance from all the lads and they all deserve credit. They were magnificent, we dug in so deep and we’re thrilled to be in the final.
“I was battling with the defender to try and put him under pressure. I don’t know if he did it on purpose but he touched the ball with his hand. The referee saw it and he gave the penalty.
“I was thinking if I score it might be enough to get us in the final, I was determined not to miss it.”
The forward was mobbed by fans at the final whistle as they rushed onto the pitch to celebrate with the players.
Reading have 11 days before they face either Sheffield Wednesday or Huddersfield at Wembley Stadium on May 29.