Mark Bowen praised his Reading players after they showed “enormous character” to pull off a surprise 2-1 win at play-off hopefuls Fulham.
Reading’s first win on New Year’s Day since 2007 means they are now just five points away from the top six following a slow start to their season.
Bowen said: “It’s a difficult place to come. We knew the way the game was going to pan out, of being under a lot of pressure, which we were.
“Fulham are a very, very good side but we took our goals very well and then showed enormous character, which we’ve certainly been doing since I walked in the door.
“I’m actually disappointed we conceded a goal after the run we’ve been on (four consecutive clean sheets), but we’re in a good place now in terms of the confidence of the group and the understanding that we’ve got with each other and how we want to go about our business.
“Again, it paid off.”
Bowen, who took over from Jose Gomes in October, was also full of praise for Swift after he scored his third goal in as many games.
“He’s a top, top player and I really mean that,” Bowen said. “We missed him. He had a groin injury, I think it was, and we missed him for about four or five weeks last month.
“We really did miss him because he’s a calming influence on the pitch when he receives the ball, and he’s getting into good areas on the pitch as well to get his goals and make a real difference for us.”
The Royals boss also gave credit to goalkeeper Rafael Cabral, who produced several important stops to keep out a Cottagers side desperate to claim a point.
The Brazilian produced a stunning triple save in the first half before tipping an Aleksandar Mitrovic header onto the crossbar in stoppage time to help secure all three points.
Bowen said: “He’s done it week in, week out, game in and game out for us. He’s got unbelievable reflexes and spring. He’s obviously played at a very high level and we’re lucky to have him.”
Reading are now unbeaten in their last six league games, which includes a four-match winning run.
Scott Parker admitted Fulham failed to take advantage of “a big opportunity” to close the gap on the top two.
“I’ve stood in this position many a time with the same feeling, scratching your head to think how you’re one down after the first time they enter our box,” Parker said.
“They score a goal, we put them under immense pressure and at both ends of the pitch again today we just weren’t good enough.
“It was too easy for them to score, and at the same time we put them under a lot of pressure and we don’t capitalise on that.
“I think, ultimately, you need something more sometimes than flamboyant play, nice control of a football match, possession, chances, you need something more.
“Certainly you need something more in this division for sure, you need a desperation.
“If you want to be 14th, if you want to be 10th in this division, you go along the way and you win two, lose a couple. Win three, lose one.
“If you want to be successful in this division, or you want to be a successful team and a successful football club, there’s something you can’t measure and it comes from within.
“At times this year I don’t think we’ve had that, and ultimately we need to change that.”