JAAP Stam argued a point at Nottingham Forest was a positive result for Reading FC – despite conceding a late equaliser.

Omar Richards fired Royals in front in the 35th minute with his first goal for the club during a dominant period for the visitors.

Stam’s men fought hard to protect their lead under a barrage of Forest pressure in the second half, with Tendayi Darikwa hitting the crossbar in the 55th minute.

But Reading’s resistance was finally broken five minutes from time when Lee Tomlin levelled at the City Ground.

The result means both Reading and Forest have won just one of their last 12 Championship games, with 18th-placed Royals four points above the drop zone and Forest one place higher.

And Stam was keen to focus on the positives.

“The team worked very hard and the players did their best,” he declared. “We wanted to hang on for the three points but it’s not always easy.

“But it was important to get something out of the game, though we would have liked to have had more.”

Royals had the edge in the opening period but saw on-loan Derby striker Chris Martin miss from six yards from Chris Gunter’s early cross.

Forest’s Ben Brereton had a goal ruled out for offside, but Liam Moore and Chris Gunter also went close for the visitors before Richards broke the deadlock with a fierce strike from 12 yards.

Aitor Karanca’s hosts created a host of chances in the second half, with Tomlin equalising late on to deny Royals a much-needed win.

Stam added: “We played very well first half and had some very good opportunities to score more than one.

“It’s not easy to get the ball in the net because the opposition is fighting hard to defend.

“We wanted to keep going in the second half but they were pressing higher up the pitch.

“Forest created chances in the second half and we conceded the goal.

“We gave Lee Tomlin too much space and he punished us.”

It was a night to remember for 20-year-old left-back Richards after netting his first goal in Reading colours, and Stam said: “He’s a good player, he’s comfortable on the ball and he goes forward. He has pace and can score a goal.

“When you go forward as a left back you need to be able to finish. It’s good for him and good for the team.”

This was the first of six games in 19 days for the Royals – a run Stam prepared for by taking his struggling squad to Spain for warm-weather training last week.

Reading face some daunting fixtures in that spell starting with back-to-back home games against fourth-placed Derby County this Saturday (3pm ko) and play-off chasing Sheffield United next Tuesday (8pm).

Stam’s men then go to runaway leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, March 3.

And Royals boss insists a fast start against Derby this weekend is vital for his side.

“We know we have a lot of games in a short space of time,” he added. “Derby are a very good side which we all know but we’re at home and hopefully we can get the three points.

“We know what they can do and they know what we can do. We need to start like we did in the first half at Forest – with confidence on the ball and take any chances we create.”