The Royals continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough at the Riverside.
Veljko Paunovic said he was content with the display and the spirit of the team after the game. Lucas Joao and Ovie Ejaria came back into the starting line up but were unable to capitalise on our first half dominance. Boro came back into the game in the second half but the defence were once again solid to seal a point. The Royals still sit in second in the Championship, behind Bristol City, who also drew.
Paunovic on the performance
“We put in a very good performance again. Defensively we were solid... again. The spirit was fantastic and we pushed hard until the very end for the win. We linked up well, especially towards the end of the game and we were unlucky this time not to score with one of our opportunities - but we have to acknowledge the good work that our opponent put in today, especially defensively.
“This was probably the hardest match physically that we have had so far, but I think we matched their intensity. I’m never happy when the team don’t win. But I’m content with the hustle, the clean sheet and the mentality.
“I think we showed that in every game we go seriously for the win, we pushed right until the end for the three points. We keep learning and growing as a team, we will now recover our team from this fantastic effort today, assess the fitness and fatigue issues tomorrow and work towards the next game.”
Paunovic on Joao’s impact
“He did his best. Fortunately or unfortunately as strikers you’re measured by scoring or not scoring goals but he was very good for the team. He’s coming back from the injury and it’s still fresh so we have to consider that when we prepare our games. It was important also to give him a break.”
Paunovic on the defensive display
“The team worked very hard with a fantastic spirit - a warrior spirit. I’m proud of the effort and commitment we had in defence but also in attack. You could see our centre-backs were pushing forward late in the game - Moore and Morrison getting in front of their box. Consistently we were attacking and trying to get the win - that’s the mentality we are looking for.”
Paunovic on being tempted to play Esteves?
“We have three subs so we had a couple of plans in case we needed to apply them. We were ready for anything and in a lot of the scenarios he would have played a part but we believed we needed to push with the guys on the field and to push for the win.
“I’m happy with their performance and when they came in the team got better in linking play up and holding the ball up and one of the best chances came from some fantastic team play which finished with Ejaria’s shot which unfortunately hit the post.
“We’re really happy with the performance of everyone but not happy with the result. This was one of the hardest physical challenges we had so far and on the other side it was a team who plays with a lot of intensity and they compete very well.”
Paunovic on whether we were close to any deals on deadline day
“We always focus on the future. We move forward and I don’t remember what happened yesterday! It’s done.”
Paunovic on bringing in free agents
“Maybe - free agents are free agents. It’s an opportunity for us and we’ll explore it and we’ll see if it can help the team, that’s always the goal.”
Paunovic on the upcoming fixtures
“It’s a big challenge when we have this stretch of games, even more so in this league when every game is a physical challenge. But during the international break we worked very hard on our fitness and I think you could see that today.
“We now have to work against the clock, with just a couple of days before the next game. So we have to accelerate everything we do.”