STAND-IN skipper Chris Gunter offered a frank assessment of the season so far after guiding Reading FC to crucial victory at Leeds United.

Gunter wore the captain’s armband in Saturday's 1-0 win at Elland Road after Paul McShane was ruled out through injury.

The Wales international abandoned his normal right-back duties to fill in at left back after Jordan Obita was ruled out for the season with a knee injury.

In another enforced defensive change, Leandro Bacuna dropped in at left-back instead at Gunter, while Tiago Ilori was recalled at centre-back alongside Lian Moore.

But Royals coped brilliantly with the disruption to secure their first victory and clean sheet in six Championship matches thanks to Mo Barrow’s 85th-minute winner and Vito Mannone’s injury-time penalty save.

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Mo Barrow slots the ball past Leeds keeper Andy Lonergan at Elland Road. Pictures: Jason Dawson/jasonpix.

And Gunter was the first to admit Reading have been off the boil for most of the season following just two wins in their previous 10 league games.

“Results-wise we haven’t been doing too well,” he said. “Performances haven’t been brilliant but we felt we’ve been doing okay and haven’t had a bit of luck.

“But against Leeds I thought we were really good.

“We’ve taken a lot of criticism over the last couple of weeks with our results, but we went to Elland Road and stuck together and produced that type of performance.

“Chances-wise, we had the better even though they huffed and puffed a lot.

“It was a really good performance and one that showed the squad, staff and players are all together.”

Barrow gave Reading a priceless lead on Saturday when he collected a Joey van den Berg pass before firing past Andy Lonergan in the 85th minute.

And Stam’s men survived an injury-time scare when Mannone denied Pablo Hernandez from the penalty spot to secure all three points.

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Vito Mannone saves Pablo Hernandez's injury-time penalty.

Royals remain 20th in the Championship table after the win, and Gunter insists it is very much a case of one step at a time ahead of a tough trip to third-placed Sheffield United this Saturday (3pm).

“We’re approaching it like last season – one game at a time,” explained Gunter, 28.

“Every single team in this division has aspirations of being in the top six and we’re no different, but it’s easy saying that.

“You have to go and produce every week and we know how difficult it is. Just because we finished third last season and got so close, it doesn’t mean we have a divine right to be up there again.

"There are plenty of big clubs in this league, we have to focus on producing performances that produce results. You can’t just say that you want to be in the top six – you need performances.

“You can’t go the whole season grinding out results, you have to play well. That’s what we did last year and that’s the aim this year.”

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Reading celebrate Mo Barrow's winning goal.