Mark Bowen’s first game as Reading manager finished with a win after Matt Miazga scored an 98th-minute winner against Preston North End at the Madejski Stadium. The Royals played well and deserved the win overall, but it looked as though they would stay in the bottom three until Miazga knocked the ball home to put us up to 19th.
Bowen on the game
“It was a scrappy, stop-start game. From a tactical point of view we wanted to get the ball forward and into their box a bit quicker. But we were probably trying to go from back to front too quickly in the first half.
“So at half-time I asked them to try to be a bit more patient and take that extra pass. We did that and every player contributed and you get the rewards for what you put in.”
Bowen on the players
“Every player put in a great shift in for me today. Our back five for example... Matt Miazga had been away with the USA until late in the week, Michael Morrison had missed training earlier in the week with a stomach bug but you can see from the cut to his eye how brave he was this afternoon, the captain Liam Moore led by example of course, Jordan Obita created the goal with a tremendous shot at the end and Andy Yiadom just up and down that right side, so much energy.
“I’m proud of the way the lads tackled the game. I gave them lots of information to take on board - you can imagine with a new manager coming in you tend to bombard them with information sometimes and you wonder whether they have been able to take it all on board.”
Bowen on being the better side
“Throughout the game I thought we were the better side. We created the more clear-cut chances - albeit those chances were too few and far between - and as the game progressed in the second half I always thought the chances would come.
“We were the side in the ascendancy for the large part of the game and I thought if any team was going to nick it it would be us. I didn’t think it would take until the last kick of the game!”
Bowen on our defensive display
“Too many times lately this team have been chasing games, conceding silly goals and then always playing catch-up. But we were very solid defensively. I knew if we could stay at 0-0 until 70 minutes, it’s a special thing about this place when the crowd get going and push the team forward in the last 20 minutes or so.
“I thought worst-case scenario it was going to be a clean sheet and a 0-0 draw. But sometimes the gods smile on you and you get a last minute winner. The old cliche is, it’s better to be a lucky manager than a good one. And we had that bit of luck on our side today.
“I feel for the fans and the players this season. We believe we’re in a false position. And I knew when I turned up today that the fans would be behind the team and myself and they were, right from the start.”
Bowen on Miazga’s winner driving us forward for the rest of the season
“I hope so - with last-minute winners you want to say to the lads, you’ve earned it, you can have a day off tomorrow. But we can’t do that - we have catching up to do. We’ll come in tomorrow, see who’s fit because there’s a bit of sickness in the camp.
“We lost Rinomhota this morning because of it so we have to be mindful of that but we have to recover right. We’ll enjoy tonight but we can’t pat ourselves on the back. We can do that only when we get a run of results and climb the table.”
Bowen on Ejaria’s display
“He always is the stand-out player. We try and get him on the ball as much as we can. He is a huge talent for us but it’s not just him, Swift did well and Pele because he only got the shout at lunchtime.
“Rinomhota was going to be in the side and there was nothing to choose between the pair of them in my thoughts going into the game. He stepped in and did really well among the other two with that scrappy stuff.”
Bowen on if the referee had enough control
“I‘m loathe to pinpoint things with referees - there were a lot of people on the floor but it was mostly just mistimed tackles.
“I didn’t see any malice in the game. It was a scrappy game but I’m not bothered about that at the moment. I’m sure the fans will forgive me because we got three points on the board.”
Bowen on Boye and Joao injuries
“Joao has gone away for a break because he’s going to be another five or six weeks due to a crack on his foot. It’s not a break, more a sprain on top of his foot.
“Boye has a grade one or two tear on his adductor muscle in his groin so he’s probably out for around three or four weeks.”
Bowen on Gunter and McCleary nearing involvement
“We had an under-23s game on Friday night and usually there would be an over-spill of players in that but I didn’t want any [senior] players travelling.
“We had 23 or 24 players available and I make no apologies for that. We need all hands on deck and everybody together. I want to keep the numbers as much as possible together because everybody is going to play a part.”
Bowen on whether he enjoyed the game
“I enjoyed it at the end! No, but during the game I was just nervous... because you know what it means to the players and the fans here.”