Reading FC midfielder Danny Drinkwater has set his sights on gate-crashing the Championship playoff race after his crucial winner helped propel the Royals’ to a 3-2 victory at Swansea City on Saturday.

The three points in Wales came after a tough ten days that saw Reading deducted six points before drawing with Nottingham Forest and losing to Sheffield United. But Drinkwater is hoping Saturday’s performance can reignite Reading’s stuttering campaign.

“I just hope we can use this now to kick on, instead of just feeling comfortable. I don’t think it’s out of the question that we can get up back into that top six. In fact, with this league, as it is, almost any team can get into that top six. It’s such a crazy league. 

“But we need to build on games like this, rather than take one step forward and then two steps back. We need to use games like this to create a structure and a base and build from there. 

“We just need to build on this. It was a strange week with things happening off the pitch, but we’ve delivered a good performance after a sloppy performance before and now we need to move forward from this.”

Swansea grabbed the lead after just three minutes through Jamie Paterson, but Reading responded instantly, Tom Dele-Bashiru latching onto a John Swift pass before cutting inside and shooting low to make it 1-1.

Reading Chronicle: Tom Dele-Bashiru fires Reading level. Image by: JasonPIX.Tom Dele-Bashiru fires Reading level. Image by: JasonPIX.

Veijko Paunovic’s team then took the lead when Andy Carroll, starting for the first time since arriving at the club, raced onto a Drinkwater through ball and cooly slotted into the bottom corner.

Ryan Manning got Swansea back on level terms in the 49th minute, but just as with the hosts’ first, Reading hit back immediately, this time Drinkwater side-footing home after Dele-Bashiru’s strike struck the base of the post.

“It was a bit of a strange game,” Drinkwater said. “We like to normally be the team who has all the possession, but Swansea are so good on the ball and comfortable playing out from the back, that we had to adapt. But we tried to use the way they play to hit them on the counter-attack and it worked. 

“We reacted really well to them scoring, which is a real positive because in the past we haven’t done that. It was a good shift and everyone one of us worked really hard.”

“My finish was instinctive,” the Chelsea loanee said of his match-winning effort. “It’s the first time I’ve been in that box for a while. But I’m just delighted to help the lads get three points. 

 “After not playing very much in recent seasons, it’s nice to be more regularly out there on the pitch. It’s bringing me more fitness, which is good and what I need. I’m trying to do as much as I can for the team and, hopefully, that’s showing. 

“I have been out of football for so long, that recovery time is a big thing for me now. I need to get the rest in be ready again for the next one. 

“The time since I last scored sounds horrific, but it was so nice to get on the scoresheet. I don’t know if the celebrations were any good. It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten how to do it!”

While Reading fans will have no doubt enjoyed seeing Drinkwater get on the scoresheet for the first time since his temporary switch from Chelsea in the summer, the former Leicester City title-winner admitted it was more important for the team that Carroll got off the mark after arriving at the club eleven days ago.

Reading Chronicle: Andy Carroll wheels away in celebration of his first Reading goal. Image by: JasonPIX.Andy Carroll wheels away in celebration of his first Reading goal. Image by: JasonPIX.

“Andy Carroll has been a great signing for the club. Just having around the place is great for all the lads. It’s about us using our youth to help his experience to create the best team we can. He helps us create a spine through the team and we need to use that to kick on. 

“It was nice to score but It was even better that Andy scored and I think that’s a great sign of things to come. He’s a big unit and the more he starts using that power again, the more of a problem he’s going to be for other teams. He showed a great first touch as well and provided a superb finish. 

“If we can use him effectively in games, and play off him, then he’s going to be massive for us.”