Mark Bowen’s return to Stoke City wasn’t the one that he wanted but the Royals did leave with a point. Neither side had a shot on target in a stalemate at the bet365 stadium, but a clean sheet away from home can always be a positive.
Bowen on the result
“Any point away from home in this league, you’ll take. Especially with the way things have gone, in that this is my tenth game with the club and today I’m missing five of the starting players from the first game through injury.
“We’ve had a bit of bad luck with injuries but you have to deal with that. And the players that I’m bringing in are doing a job for the team. We had to flip around the way we’re playing too – we have been playing with three at the back but we had to switch it around in a short space of time. This league doesn’t allow you a lot of time to prepare between games.
“So we’ve come here and the lads have played into that, and at times had really good possession. At times we could have been more productive, but we were fairly comfortable throughout. We defended really well with a flat back four, which is the first time we have started with that system since I’ve been here.
“I’m pleased with the effort that the lads put in and the attacks we tried to build, but we didn’t create enough chances for our strikers. We didn’t create clear-cut opportunities for our strikers and we have to be better at that.
“But it was important to come away from home and try to have more control of the game, which we didn’t have against Barnsley. We spoke at half-time about trying to keep possession, but also whether we could play it a little bit quicker to the strikers to give them a better opportunity. If you delay the pass for a couple of seconds longer, the chance has gone. We spoke about it but couldn’t quite execute it.”
Bowen on getting a clean sheet
“It was huge - not just by the defenders but the whole team. I gave Pele and Andy Rinomhota specific jobs to protect the centre-halves and read the play. I was delighted with the way they stuck to the ask. Yes we can be better all around in possession but that’ll come.
Bowen on Boye coming on
“Boye did well. Baldock gave his all and Joao too. Joao scored two in two and had done a fair amount of work and when you’re away you need energy in those areas. It was no reflection on how he (Baldock) played, we just needed some fresh legs.”
Bowen on injuries
“Miazga - he felt his hamstring on Friday, he had something similar earlier in the season when he came off at Huddersfield so it’s a similar thing after playing Saturday, Wednesday. He’ll have a scan on Monday so we’ll see how bad he is.
“McIntyre - played last week for the U23s but damaged his hamstring and will be out for four to five weeks. Obita- he is fit but had a family situation where a member of his family is poorly so left the hotel on Friday morning.
“Puscas - we’re hopeful. It is a dislocated shoulder and he’s seen a specialist. They thought an op was needed but he might be able to sit a week/10 days and it improves. Like Moore in the past so it could be three weeks rather than three months.
“I’m hoping Swift will be ready for QPR, if not Derby.”
Bowen on playing around the back in the first half
“We had been going a bit too quick from back to front and the last thing you want away from home is a basketball game. I wanted us to use the time on the ball, steady it and build a pattern of play and then into Adam and Ejaria.
“It worked at times and we should have been a bit quicker. We were keeping possession though and looked comfortable.”
Bowen on a clear week coming up
“I was upset in the week because we didn’t do ourselves justice at Barnsley. It was huff and puff but no real quality. At least today I saw a team that wanted to get on the ball and play football. We’ll continue to work on it, count the bodies and see where we are for next weekend.”