The Royals travelled to The Den to try and get back to winning ways, and after four defeats on the trot, it was important to pick up points to get back on track.
It wasn’t the most exciting game and it looked as though the Royals were going to go in goalless at half time, but Jed Wallace had other ideas as he put Millwall ahead. It was vital that Reading got back into the game and they did through Lucas Joao early in the second half. Joao had a chance to take all three points right at the end of the game but missed with seconds to spare.
Paunovic on picking up a point
“From the perspective of the competitor... I’m not happy with a point. But from the perspective of a manager who has to see the long-term picture, I think it was an important and positive point.
“It takes us away from that enchanted number of 22. It’s been too long since our last win. And it’s been terrible. I have felt terrible. An although this is not a win, it’s important that we have moved from that 22 point spot where we were stuck.
“And we have learned our lessons from the past. When we were in a similar situation, in the game against Coventry, we equalised and then lost the match.
“We are a team who don’t have many ties because we always emphasise, go for the win, go for the win. And at Coventry, we looked to quickly for the win, conceded goals and lost the game.
“But there was a break in the second half were we said ‘Coventry isn’t happening again’. It’s 1-1, we can only win the game from here. And we worked hard to the very end and earned a point which can serve as a catalyst for the future.”
Paunovic on the performance
“We are still consolidating as a team as we get players back from injury. It’s one thing getting the player back out there but then he still needs to recover his form and get back to his level of performance.
“We weren’t that sharp in the first half, we were a bit flat. And then they scored a great free-kick - I think we inspire the opposition’s shooters, they seem to score the best goals against us! “But after their goal we had a good reaction and there was a very quick response.
“We were in their box a lot, pushing forward, we were pressing much higher - we got the goal and it forced them to change their game and start playing long balls to their big guys.
“I think we adapted well. It was close for both teams - we both had opportunities. But the last one was ours, so with that taste of disappointment we go away knowing today’s point is something. And we are moving forward.”
Paunovic on ending the losing run
“It’s been almost a month since we last won - at Blackburn. It’s been terrible. I feel terrible. It was the worst month so far and we still haven’t won so it’s not great but I think it’s important we moved from that spot that we were stuck on - 22 points.
“From the manager’s perspective, I need to say we’re still consolidating our team. Having players coming back from injury. It’s one thing when you’re recovering a player from injury but he still needs to get his form back and get back to a level that we got in the past.
“That’s why we are still consolidating. Although we didn’t manage the game how we wanted to in terms of the minutes of the guys, the priority was to win and we needed to go with a team which we thought could win the three points throughout the whole game.
“These are the circumstances we don’t control but definitely I think consolidation of the team in the next couple of weeks - and the sooner the better - it’s going to be important and seen.
“We’re looking forward to getting the boost of our fans when they are back in 10 days and also to be ready to give them a reason to celebrate and be happy.”
Paunovic on Olise changing the game
“When he keeps his feet on the ground and when he understands the big picture - because he’s a young player and is still developing and you can expect from the young players a certain lack of understanding of the big picture so when he’s tuned in he is definitely one of the players, probably in the league that can change every single game.
“But his application tonight and the combination with the rest of the team, not only in attack but also in defence. He also did that and this is important for our team. In our team everyone plays a role in our attack but also in defence.”
Paunovic on whether Olise’s performance was enough to earn a start on Saturday
“We have a couple of days to recover and prepare. We’ll see in the next couple of days what are the best guys or team to start against Bristol City and we also have to think about what plan Bs we can build around that. When plan A like today didn’t work.”
Paunovic on Joao’s late chance
“That would have been a fantastic boost for the team but we still didn’t deserve it. We didn’t get to that level of form which requires a bit of luck at the end.
“I’m happy my team always plays until the end, even when we lost 3-0 at home, we finished in the box of our opponent which shows the mentality, consistency in our style, identity and that’s how you win games and become champions, one day, hopefully!”