Yesterday’s fixture was a ‘must not lose’ game, not only because it was against bottom side Ipswich, but it could have meant the end of Paul Clement’s career at Reading. After an incredibly poor first half, the Royals managed to pick up an important point.
The first 10 minutes were a bit of a whirlwind, with Ipswich taking the lead through Gwion Edwards. Yakou Meite equalised minutes later with a fantastic bicycle kick, but Ipswich regained the lead again through Freddie Sears after poor defending by the Royals back line.
Ipswich were in control of the first half, but with the introduction of Garath McCleary in the second half, the Royals became more attacking and finally got what they deserved with Meite picking up his second goal of the game in the 84th minute.
Although a point may not seem enough, it does mean that the Royals are now out of the bottom three, just! Here is what Clement had to say after the game to both the official club website and Football.London.
Clement on the performance
“We were bad in the first half - really bad. I thought what we saw was one team that knew they were in a relegation fight, giving it absolutely everything, and one what was like a rabbit in the headlights and not knowing what to do.
“Our defence didn’t give us any sort of solidarity in the first half and the second goal we conceded was so poor. We were fortunate to get to the half with the score at 2-1.
“It’s hard to explain the first half performance - it wasn’t through a lack of preparation or not letting the players know what type of game to expect. There were so many errors that I didn’t recognise the players we’ve been working with all week. I could have made five or six substitutions at half time if the rules had allowed it.
“In the second half, it was a totally different team. We played with spirit, we played with energy. They listened to my words at half-time and reacted well. We deserved to get back in the game and we created enough good chances at the end to maybe have gone on to win it.
“But based on what I saw, it’s a missed opportunity. We should have done better, but a point is probably a fair result.”
Clement on being consistent
“For some reason, we’re finding it difficult to find any level of consistency over 90 minutes. We’ve not done it that often and in back-to-back games we haven’t been able to do it.
“We put in a 45-minute performance today. Giving that kind of effort, spirit and desire to win is the foundation of going on to put in a performance. As soon as we started to compete, we then played better football. It wasn’t perfect, but we started to create chances.”
Clement on a point being a fair result
“I think so - based on the performance of the two teams. In the first half we were bad - really bad. And I was worried, given the context of the season. We were in the relegation zone at the start of play against another team in the relegation zone and it looked like only one team was in there - and that was Ipswich.
“We were fortunate at half half to come in with the scoreline at only 2-1 - it could have been three or four based on the way we were playing and the errors we were making and the way our back line started the game.
“I find it very difficult to explain how that was because the messages all week either directly with the players or through the media was that this was going to be a very tough game. I don’t know why we played like that in the first half.
“I can only assume - you can say it as much as you want and it’s not at the conscious level but at the sub conscious level where it’s maybe not quite right. And it doesn’t work out like that.
“The players reacted well in the second half to what I said and played with the right spirit. The football wasn’t perfect but certainly gave us the foundation to pin Ipswich back and we finished the stronger team.
“We deserved to at least draw the game and at the end we’ve had the better chances.”
On Yakou Meite’s performance
“He’s doing well and was touch and go for the game but he was determined to play.
“I thought he was competitive from the first whistle and showed the right attitude from the word go. That’s how you have to be as a player and after that you can build on the other stuff.
“He scored two good goals, especially the first one. He’s proving to be a very important player for us.”
On Modou Barrow’s penalty appeal
“I was expecting it to be given but I haven’t seen it back.”
Clement on bringing Anssi Jaakkola back in and changing goalkeepers
“It was 51-49 in Jaakkola’s favour. It could easily have been Walker after being in a winning team last week. He made a couple of good saves but also a few errors. But Jaakkola had been playing well before his injury - he had his best game before he picked up the injury so for that reason I decided to put him back in.
“Sometimes it has been forced on me (to change goalkeepers) - today I decided to make a change as I had two fit first team players. Anssi did ok but not great with his kicking. I’d have to look back at the finer points to decide if I made the right call.”
Clement on the international break
“There’s a couple of weeks until we play again and we’re going into a difficult run of games. This point gets us out of the relegation zone, so it looks better than it did going into this game. Now we move on to the next set of games.”