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Mark Bowen Praises Spirit In Nottingham Forest Draw (Again)

For the second time this month, the gaffer had a dogged 1-1 draw against Forest to talk about.

Nottingham Forest v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - City Ground Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images

The last time the Royals played Nottingham Forest, it was a entertaining finish with us scoring a very late equaliser to secure a point. This time was no different, well maybe not as late, but Sam Baldock’s 83rd-minute equaliser meant Reading left the City Ground with a point.

Ex-Reading striker Lewis Grabban scored in the 80th minute, but Baldock came off the bench to score the equaliser and secure the Royals a point to move us up to 15th. Manager Mark Bowen made three changes and praised his side after the game; he spoke to GetReading.

Bowen on the game

“I thought we edged it in terms of our play in the second half. We were the team that was looking more comfortable in possession and like the home game, we defended resolutely in the first half.

“People like Michael Olise put in a really accomplished performance against a side that has been in and around the top six all year. Yet again we showed character and resilience to come back. Even when we went 1-0 down I felt like we would get a chance to score because we didn’t let their goal affect us.”

Bowen on making three changes to the team

“We were missing Meite due to a family bereavement and he was in our thoughts before the game and during it as well so I brought Olise in.

“I also brought in Puscas - with Joao’s injury we will be using him and Baldock intermittently and I feel for them because I am believer in two strikers up front but with this system and trying to control the midfield unfortunately you’re left with one striker. It gives us more control of the game but it’s hard for the strikers because if they don’t get support it’s hard.

“Puscas - I’ll never doubt his workrate but he was only living off scraps and he didn’t get enough support around him. Adam - I’m trying to protect him because he has had a lot of football. Obita was strong down the left and he had a good understanding with Blackett.”

Bowen on McCleary’s absence

“I explained it to him and he was disappointed because it’s his former club. He’s never let me down with anything he has done but I thought it was the right time to give Olise his chance.

“He’s such a talented player and at his age he can do anything in his career once he gets his head right. I blame myself for not using him more but he showed me tonight I can now trust him - not just what he does on the ball but his workrate and his intelligence.

“He had a lot of help from Gunter which was important but that’s the thing with young players, if you can’t trust them to do the job when the opposition have the ball they don’t get in the side. He showed me tonight he can do that.”

Bowen on bouncing back after Millwall

“It’s been 17, 18 games since I came in and there were only two games when the players let me down - Birmingham and Millwall. I had no doubt the performance would change. They don’t have it in their make-up now to go three or four games with poor performances.

“I said about promotion and until it’s mathematically not possible we’ll keep fighting for it. I don’t make any apologies for saying that. I want to give the fans hope. I’m a confident guy - I think we can do special things here. We got a point tonight but I am disappointed because it’s more catching up we have to do but we’ll keep trying.”

Bowen on Sam Baldock

“It was hard for him on Saturday and I spoke to him before the game but he said he had no complaints [being left out]. He knew he had to be better.”

Bowen on the transfer latest

“We’ll keep striving and if something comes up which strengthens us I know the owners and the people in charge will try and push for it. I’m hopeful of getting one or two faces in.”

Bowen on departures

“Not really - Nigel Howe lets me know if there are any solid enquiries which are worthwhile making a decision on but I’ve heard nothing back from him.”