It was always going to come at some point, but the Royals’ unbeaten start to the season is over after a 3-2 defeat against Coventry City.
Reading played well at times, but Coventry took the lead in the 22nd minute through Gustavo Hamer. Lucas Joao continued his fine form to get the equaliser in the second half, but Coventry scored two quick goals to go 3-1 up. George Puscas came on and scored in the 92nd minute to make it interesting but it was too little, too late. The Royals still sit top of the Championship, ahead of Bournemouth in second.
Paunovic on the defeat
“Today it hurts. It is difficult when you lose, but we will recover. We have a very good spirit within the players and the staff and we want to keep fostering that. So we are not going to let anyone get down after tonight’s defeat - because small defeats lead to big victories.
“And our guys gave everything. All the non-negotiables were there to see - never give up, fight until the end, always do your best. So attitude-wise I think we had a very good game. Technically, we did very well with the ball. And defensively we did well too - except for defending the shots from outside of the box. They cost us. But we pushed until the end for an equaliser. That is the mentality we want in our team.
“When we win we say we can improve. And when we lose you have to acknowledge you can improve too. There are no excuses, only possibilities to keep learning and growing as a team... and improving.
“Nobody is happy when you lose. But I want to tell out fans that we will recover and get back to the winning streak as soon as possible. And hopefully that will be the next game.”
Paunovic on whether Reading lacked quality
“If you look at our game and see that we score two goals on the road and conceded three, I think that is the difference. We were on the attacking side with the ball. We had a fantastic dynamic and a good flow. Unfortunately, we conceded goals from outside the box. We did not block those well and that is something we have to improve. This game has shown us that.
“But everything else was there. The attitude of always giving our best and pushing until the end was there. The only thing we have to take from this game are those blocks, those shots and not allowing our opponents to threaten us from outside the box.”
Paunovic on Coventry
“Those shots killed us. Other than that we just have to congratulate them when they do well and today they were better in executing their opportunities - I will say that. Scoring two goals on the road is an accomplishment but if you concede more then it brings you into this situation where we are all feeling a defeat from a game that we were doing pretty well in.
“We were excellent today. Even taking the lead would have given us a big opportunity. We have to look for that, being more ruthless. It is a hard loss but it is even harder knowing that we may have won it.”
Paunovic on Liam Moore
“Liam Moore has picked up that injury so we will have to see how that goes. We are going to get the opinion of a specialist in the coming days and we hope that it will not be a long time. We will see how he is.”
Paunovic on bouncing back
“When we win and lose we have that day to develop on. We will, as soon as possible, turn to our next game. I think the confidence of the group is there. We should have won this game and we should have done things better.
“The guys know that we played good football that normally would bring victories, but we must defend better now. We have to recover their body, all the wounds that they picked up today. This is our main focus now.”
Paunovic on Lucas Joao’s form
“Another goal for him, yes. He is doing his job, a striker’s job. His work-rate has improved a lot and his fitness too. We have to be careful with his fatigue and accumulation but he is in a very good place right now.”
Paunovic on upcoming fixtures
“We have a very busy stretch now and with two games at home we want to immediately erase what is behind us and focus on the next game. For that, it is going to be important to recover our bodies and our minds.
“Tonight, we lost. But we had a pretty good game. We had possession, we created opportunities and we scored two goals on the road - which is never easy. So there are some things we can be satisfied with and others we can improve on and do better.”