The Royals are in the hat for the fifth round of the FA Cup, but they will need to face a replay against Cardiff City in Wales after a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
The Bluebirds took the lead in the first half through Callum Paterson, before Yakou Meite equalised just minutes later in very emotional scenes. Sol Bamba had a very good chance to take Cardiff through to the next round, but missed from close range. Tom McIntyre was given his marching orders later on after he received his second yellow card. There were also worrying moments as Matt Miazga was stretchered off in the second half.
Bowen on the game
“You play any Neil Harris team and you know you’ll have a difficult afternoon on your hands. We had a young side out there and I think they stood up to the challenge really well. They showed great character and when we did get it down and play there were times we cut through them. I thought it was a good performance against difficult opposition.
“It wasn’t a great start for us, we were caught a little bit cold with that ball into the box and they scored early. But we shrugged it off, went forward, tried to follow the game plan and we got straight back into it.
“As the game went on, with Matt Miazga going off injured and then playing with ten men at the end - you’re expecting the worst a little bit. But the young players stood up to it, the more experienced players organising the team well and galvanising the players around him.
“So I’m sitting here a proud man, because we made a lot of changes and this young side stood up to the challenge.”
Bowen on using a young group of players
“A very similar group of players went up to Blackpool in the last round and did a fantastic job, so I had no fears they could come onto this stage and produce again. And that’s what they did.”
Bowen on a replay
“Hand on heart, I don’t think myself nor Neil Harris wanted a replay. But we’ll see what the draw on Monday night brings and then we’ll go again in the replay.
“You always want to be sitting and watching the draw for the next round of the FA Cup and for your team to be part of that draw. We’ve not got through the tie, but we’re in the hat and we’ll look forward to Monday night and see what it produces.”
Bowen on Miazga’s injury
“He heard a loud crack when he landed awkwardly. He feared the worst and he’ll be leaving the ground on crutches. Until you get a scan done you just don’t know. The feeling is it’s not a bone situation but it could be something to do with ligaments.”
Bowen on Aluko’s display
“He was excellent in the first half - he looked really sharp. He hasn’t had a lot of football and as the game went on it was harder for him. He certainly showed me things that are ongoing that I can use for the rest of the season.”
Bowen on the alleged homophobic chanting
“It’s unfortunate - apparently they were isolated incidents but no one likes to hear it. We heard it against Millwall the other week. You hope and pray it’s not creeping back into football. Nobody likes to hear it and it needs to be stamped out.”
Bowen on needing to bring in defensive cover
“I don’t think we need to go into the transfer market. We have McIntyre and Tyler Blackett has been playing left-sided centre-back as well.
“McIntyre got a red for two soft yellows but he showed he is a mature player - he is the future of this club and I was delighted with his performance. In difficult circumstances he showed real quality today. He’ll only miss one game but I think we have enough in those areas to cover that.”
Bowen on McIntyre’s red card
“It was a soft one - he had to go for the ball and he caught the player. It happens.”
Bowen on Ben House’s debut
“I apologised to him afterwards - but with the circumstances we had to see the game out. He understood being taken off and he had a smile on his face.”
Bowen on Meite’s week
“It’s been a brutal week for him but he has a great bunch of teammates around him. I kept him in contact with him every day and he made it clear he wanted to play. I’ve always believed that’s what footballers love - being out on the grass. Hopefully his game has helped him in his recovery. He got a great goal and his dad was very close to him. He is in our thoughts and we’ll give all the support he needs.”
Bowen on transfers
“We’ve got five or six days to go. We are hopeful of doing something. It is difficult for loads of different reasons - I don’t want to just bring somebody in for the sake of it. I don’t want to bring a striker in who is the same as the strikers we’ve got. I hope it will be a busy week in terms of if we do something it will be the right decision.”
Bowen on youngsters going out on loan
“The bench was full of academy players. I don’t want to make any excuses for that. We have Bristol City here on Tuesday night and I didn’t want to play any of the likely team.
“I didn’t want to be waking up with players nursing injuries. I knew I could rely on them if I needed to. People like Osho came on and did well.”