x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

McDermott proud of his side's heart

Brian McDermott had nothing but praise for his Reading side after their fairytale FA Cup run ended in dramatic circumstances.

Brian McDermott had nothing but praise for his Reading side after their fairytale FA Cup run ended in dramatic circumstances. Shane Long had the club dreaming of Wembley and a first semi final since 1927 with two goals in an impressive first half. But Villa stormed back with four goals to deny the Royals a historic win and leave McDermott beaten, but a proud manager. "If you are going to lose a game that's the way to do it, especially in the FA Cup," he said.

"We came up against a class side and we needed to keep it tight for the first 10 minutes after the break and we just couldn't do that. "It wasn't nerves. We came up against players who could be in the Champions League next year. They have pace, power and quality all over the pitch and I think we gave them as tough a game as they have had all season. "We knew at half-time that they were capable of producing something and they certainly responded to whatever Martin said [at half time].

"We could have quit, but we kept going and that's the mindset they have got as a group of players." Martin O'Neill, the Villa manager, admitted he was relieved his side were only 2-0 down at the break as Reading played without "fear". And McDermott added: "Our players could not have given any more. "This season we've put Reading back on the map." He will hope his side - who were playing Premier League football three seasons ago - can now use their cup run - which has seen them beat Liverpool and Burnley - as inspiration to avoid relegation from the Championship.

"We win and lose together as a group and we've had the conversation in the dressing room," he added. "Now we've got a really big week and we look forward to it." akhan@thenational.ae