PAUL Clement hailed the attitude of his Reading FC players since his arrival after today’s 1-0 victory over Preston North End.

Clement celebrated a second victory and clean sheet in three matches since replacing Jaap Stam thanks to Mo Barrow’s first-half winner.

It was also Reading’s first league win on a Saturday since they beat Wigan on April 29, 2017.

Clement admitted: “That’s not a good statistic really when you think today was our 41st game of the season.

“But we’re delighted with the result. It was a grind at times and not dissimilar to the QPR game where we scored early on but then had to defend a lot.

“Players were dead on their feet at the end, they gave everything to get the win and I’m really pleased about that.

“That’s what you want as a manager when you first come in, to see they are up for the fight, that they have character and are determined to get results.

“Today wasn’t pretty and obviously I want to improve the football going forward.

“But at the moment it’s all about getting results and we got over the line again which is very important, especially with Barnsley getting a late winner against Sheffield United.”

Barnsley’s win at Sheffield United in the early kick-off saw Reading’s lead over the bottom three cut from five points to two.

But Clement’s men clinched a much-needed victory over North End to restore the five point cushion with five games remaining.

Barrow headed Royals in front in the 12th minute, but Preston saw Louis Moult and substitute Sean Maguire hit the woodwork in each half.

Clement’s men then had to defend for long periods before they could finally end their Saturday afternoon hoodoo.

“We knew the Barnsley result going into our game,” added Clement. “I told the players to expect Barnsley to win in my team-talk, but the main thing was we put all our energy into our performance and that’s what we did and it worked out well.

“There was a long way left after we’d scored. We didn’t manage to get a second goal and it wasn’t very good game to watch. It was blood and thunder really with a lot of high balls, knock-downs and set plays and stoppages.

“But I said to the players the main thing is the result and that’s what we got.

“We wanted to keep things tight and it’s a second clean sheet in my three games here which is encouraging.

“If you do that you have a minimum of a point so it’s a good result.

“But, as always in the Championship, we move on quickly and a big game at Fulham coming up. It’s a little similar to today in that both teams have a lot of play for and neither wants a draw.

“All we can do is prepare well see if we can get another positive result.”

Reading travel to Fulham on Tuesday night (7.45pm ko) then host relegation-haunted Sunderland a week today.

“Nobody is getting carried away, we know there’s a lot of football to the played and the gap between us and Barnsley is five points which can change really quickly with games coming so frequently," added Clement.

“But we have to be very focussed and we have to expect this to go all the way to the last game.”