READING FC boss Jaap Stam explained how ruffling Fulham's feathers paid off big time in the Championship play-off semi finals.
Stam revealed his players were told the Cottagers 'don't like it' when you 'get under their skin' as the teams fought to reach Wembley.
And it appears Stam's tactics were spot on as Royals secured a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage in the first leg before winning the home leg 1-0 on Tuesday night in front of a packed Madejski Stadium crowd.
Yann Kermorgant's 49th minute penalty proved to be the difference, though Reading had to withstand a barrage of Fulham attacks late in the game before sealing their place in the final where they will meet Huddersfield Town on Monday, May 29 (3pm ko).
Stam said: "Tuesday night wasn't just about the last 20 minutes as during the first 65 minutes we played very well and had a couple of chances to score more goals.
“So don't talk about Fulham controlling the last 20 minutes. People always remember what happened last not what happened before that.
"We're proud of our achievement over the two games against a very good side.
“But you saw that if you make it difficult for them, if you are under their skins sometimes, you can see they don't like it. Sometimes you need to do that."
Reading's Jordan Obita battles with Fulham's Ryan Fredericks.
Reading finished third in the Championship table yet were the rank outsiders with bookmakers to win promotion through the play-offs.
In fact, Fulham were the favourites before the semi finals even though they finished sixth and five points behind Stam's men.
Many pundits also wrote off Reading chances of progressing past the semi-final stage, with many predicting another heavy defeat at Craven Cottage where they had lost 5-0 in the league in December.
However, Reading's high-tempo display over the majority of the two legs was more than Fulham could deal with.
"Tuesday was a tough night,” added Stam. “In general we played very well in the first half. We were a threat going forward and created a couple of good chances in the first 25 minutes.
"Fulham had a spell after that so we had to drop deeper as their strikers often play as an extra midfield player.
"We managed that well most of the time, our centre-backs went with them so they wouldn't have time on the ball.
"We were aggressive in our pressing so we could win the ball back quickly and hit them on the break.”
Danny Williams gets to grips with Fulham's Sone Aluko.
He continued: "We spoke about what we needed to improve in the second half and make it more difficult for them.
"Then Yann scored the penalty and it was a case of whether we had belief to keep pressing them high up the pitch. We did that for a while after the goal, but I've been there myself. Do you keep taking risks going forward or do you defend the 1-0?
"That's what happened for nearly 30 minutes of the game, they were in control. We needed to work hard and mark our men.
"It's not a problem if they have it at the back, but you need to step in at the right time and fight with everything you have.
"We've done that several times at home this season, when we were ahead of good sides and needed to hold on, we've been able to get that win."
Stam also argued Fulham's approach in the latter stages of Tuesday's contest played into Reading's hands.
“Teams then make choices they wouldn't normally make and put balls in the box which are easier to defend than when you keep possession,” he said.
"It was a difficult second half but we worked well to get there. As people told me at the beginning of the season, this league is not all about football it is sometimes about results."