McDermott praises Royals' spirit after winning Upton Park classic
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Team unity: Reading celebrate Noel Hunt's goal in front of their jubilant fans during Saturday's victory at Upton Park. Pic: Tony Knox.
West Ham 2 - 4 Reading
BRIAN McDermott hailed his side's storming comeback at Upton Park that strengthened Reading's bid for automatic promotion.
Royals recovered from 1-0 down to win 4-2 and complete a memorable double over West Ham with their 10th victory in 12 matches.
It also opened up a four point gap between McDermott's side in second place and the Hammers in third with six Championship matches remaining.
McDermott admitted: "That game had everything but the most important thing was to get a performance, and we got a performance.
"When we were 1-0 down we weren't playing as we can play. But we knuckled down, stayed in the game and the guys know how to win matches.
"I enjoyed the second half performance, I thought we were the better side and deserved to win."
Royals fell behind to Carlton Cole's seventh minute strike and looked to be heading into the break a goal down.
But two goals in two minutes turned the game on its head and silenced the Hammers' faithful.
Kaspars Gorkss headed the equaliser from Ian Harte's corner in the 44th minute then Noel Hunt put the visitors in front a minute into time added on.
Hunt was also involved in the third goal when he collided with Abdoulaye Faye to earn his side a 58th minute penalty.
Ian Harte made no mistake by drilling the spot-kick past Robert Green for a 3-1 lead.
Ricardo Vaz Te pulled one back with a 77th minute header from a corner as Hammers threatened a frantic finale.
But Royals sealed the points seven minutes later when Mikele Leigertwood punished the sloppy hosts by fiiring home a fourth.
And McDermott admitted his side's ability to turn the game around with two quick goals from Gorkss and Hunt before the break was instrumental.
"It doesn't get much bigger than Saturday's game so to go to Upton Park and be a goal behind early in the game is never going to be easy," he explained.
"We had to hang in there and to be 2-1 up at half time was really good for us.
"I felt West Ham were getting the ball to their left-back too much so we told Jimmy Kebe to play wider.
"I also felt there were goals in the game and that we could score three or four. The players knew they hadn't played well in the first half, but in the second half we did.
"We passed it well, got the ball wide and had another goal chalked out that was probably a good goal."
It was an occasion to savour for the 3,000 travelling Royals' supporters and McDermott declared: "The fans don't need to be calm, I want them to have a good time.
"We had such a tremendous following behind the goal, I hope they had a good night in the pub.
"The whole team are working really hard together and deserve a lot of credit."
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce conceded his side now need to win their six remaining games to stand any chance of catching Reading and leaders Southampton.
"Ten minutes of madness cost us in a big game," he groaned. "We may have to win our six remaining games now to finish in the top two."
As for McDermott, he refused to look further ahead than next Friday and a home clash with Leeds United (2pm ko).
"We've got a game against Leeds, we will try and win that then go from there," said Royals' boss, who is due to run the Reading Half Marathon today.
West Ham Utd (4-5-1): Green - Faubert, Tomkins, Faye, McCartney - Vaz Te, Noble (Collins 46), O'Neill, Nolan (c), Taylor (Baldock 59) - Cole (Maynard 71). Subs not used: Lansbury, Carew. Booked: Tomkins (dissent 74), Faubert (foul 90).
Reading (4-4-2): Federici - Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte - Kebe (Afobe 83), Karacan (Tabb 55 (Robson-Kanu 65), Leigertwood, McAnuff (c) - Hunt, Roberts. Subs not used: Andersen, Church. Booked: Roberts (foul 27).
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).
Attendance: 33,350 (Reading 3,000).
This article appeared in Reading Chronicle 31 Mar 12