Reading manager Ruben Selles praised the “power” of winger Femi Azeez after he opened the scoring in an impressive 2-0 Sky Bet League One home victory over Wigan.
Azeez, 22, gave Reading an interval lead with an unstoppable 20-yard drive and Sam Smith doubled the advantage five minutes after the break.
Wigan offered little going forward in either half, with Reading comfortably seeing the game out to move up two places in the division and just one point from safety.
After the 3-2 defeat at Shrewsbury on November 11, Selles’ side sat bottom of the table and were 10 points adrift of retaining their third-tier status.
“Our experience with players like Femi, they just need to grow into the game and find a way to crack the code,” Selles said.
“I think Femi has been doing a really good job for us the entire season.
“In the beginning, he needed a little bit more luck with his end product, but he has been working hard on that.
“And when he finally got it, he now has that confidence. He is just such a powerful player for us.
“I’m very happy with the performance today, especially as it is at the start of such a busy period.
“I think that the players put everything into it to get the three points.
“Perhaps in the first 15 minutes, we didn’t feel comfortable. But after that, we managed the game until the very end.
“So we’re happy to enjoy the victory today but our recovery has already started to be ready for the next game.”
Wigan are now without a league win in three outings.
“These games aren’t so easy and I think that, in the defining moments, Reading were better,” said manager Shaun Maloney.
“Even at half-time, I was happy with the performance in the first half.
“But the big criticism of the players is that when we play like that, when we stop Reading from playing, we can’t come in 1-0 down (at the break).
“The performance was pretty good, maybe in that final third was the area that we just dropped slightly.
“But I can’t be too critical of the players in those positions because, for so much of the season, they’ve been very good.
“It was just those two big moments. In terms of their goals, they took their chances and we didn’t. That was the main difference.
“We had to change our defensive line today and tried to find a structure that made us as solid as we could be.
“In terms of that, I was actually quite happy with how we started the game, but we became a little bit less controlled in the second half.”