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Mark Bowen Praises Fast Start And Second-Half Improvement In Derby Win

The gaffer accepted problems with the first-half performance, but liked his team’s response after the break.

Reading v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

The Royals impressed with a 3-0 victory against out-of-form Derby County at the Madejski Stadium. Reading took the lead within five minutes through a Charlie Adam penalty with Derby going down to 10 men, although the Rams then hit the woodwork in a bid for an equaliser. The Royals made it two in the second half through Lucas Joao and then Yakou Meite scored another penalty to secure three points.

It was the perfect way to start the Christmas celebrations but manager Mark Bowen said after the game that back-to-back wins has to be the aim going into our Boxing Day fixture against QPR. Here is what he said after the game to the official club website and GetReading.

Bowen on the game

“They went down to ten men early on, but that was forced by our quick play, us starting the game on the front foot which I was happy about. I wanted a fast start and that sort of passage of play led to the penalty and the sending off.

“But once that goal went in, my first thought was ‘we’d better not lose this game now - we’ve gone a goal up and they’re down to ten men’. And I think the players thought that too. The fans probably think well that’s it, we’re going to go on and win comfortably now, we’ll dominate this game.

”But as we all know, it can be difficult playing against ten men and I think we got a little bit nervous after the opening goal and we looked a bit nervous for most of the first half; they had far too many chances coming up to half-time and although we were ahead, we were in a bit of a rut.

“But we ironed a few things out at half time - I asked for patient but quick play. By that I mean don’t force it, but when you’re moving the ball, move it quickly. If you do that against ten men, spaces will open up and chances will come.

”We also talked about the back four getting tighter to their men and we passed the ball well after the break and created a good number of chances in the second half.

”We looked a lot more assured and in control of our destiny after half-time. What we talked about at half-time, the players took into their second half performance and I felt more comfortable stood on the sidelines.”

Bowen on keeping a clean sheet and climbing the table

“Once the second goal goes in, you think that should be that. And you naturally you look at keeping a clean sheet - and we have two in a row now which I’m delighted with.

“It’s nice to be climbing the table. When I came in, I said that I didn’t want to waste any games without putting points on the board. Last week a lot was said about it being disappointing - but we picked up two points at Barnsley and Stoke.

“With a point you generally stay where you are in the table. It’s when you win games that you get yourself up the league. And we’ve got to keep pushing up this table. We’ve got a game in hand as well. But if you take your off the ball, you can quickly get dragged back down there.

“I know the quality we’ve got in the dressing room and I know if we get things right - work rate, togetherness, nastiness off the ball - we can get a result against anyone. So this is a good start to the Christmas week, but it’s only a start.

“We can enjoy our Christmas but not too much. I don’t want too many Quality Street or mince pies eaten because we’ve got a big game here on Boxing Day against QPR. Back-to-back wins has to be our aim.”

Bowen on Adam’s goal

“Any manager will tell you, when he’s on the ball, you’re happy. He’s got a range of passing and can bring others into play. When he’s playing in a four he knows he has to be really disciplined because he won’t always recover.

“I’m delighted for him - he’s had a difficult time since he came in, in terms of minutes. He thrives on playing and is a confidence player. He’ll be an important player for us over Christmas and into the New Year.”

Bowen on Derby picking up eight yellow cards

“I think that came out of frustration on their part. It’s expected and they’re not a dirty side in any way. From our point of view, we moved the ball quickly and caused them problems, especially in the second half.”

Bowen on taking Rinomhota off

“He’s been suffering from a heavy cold over the past few days. He won’t flag it up too much but I could see he was blowing so I wanted to make a change.”

Bowen on Derby’s penalty shout

“I don’t know, I don’t remember seeing it.”

Bowen on scoring two penalties

“The way they put them away too was good. There was power and pace on them and even the keeper had gone the right way I think they would have scored. It’s always nice to see - the way we dispatched them was really good.”

Bowen on Miazga and Puscas’ injuries

“[Miazga] trained yesterday but I didn’t want to put him on the bench. I was conscious with Swift and bringing him back too soon - same with Miazga. Hopefully the four or five days will put enough work into them to be ready for QPR.”

“[Puscas] saw the surgeon yesterday, doesn’t need an operation but has gone home to Romania for a few days. He’ll come back and he shouldn’t be more than two/two and a half weeks.”