The Royals suffered their second defeat in a matter of days when Preston North End left the Madejski victorious after a 3-0 win. Reading came into the game after a 3-2 defeat against Coventry on Friday and were looking to bounce back, and it looked like it was going to be Reading’s night when Rafael saved a penalty early in the second half, but it wasn’t mean to be with Scott Sinclair, Emil Riis Jakobsen and Brad Potts getting the goals for the away side.
Despite the defeat, Reading still sit top, three points ahead of Swansea. Stoke visit the Madejski on Saturday and it is important to get back to winning side.
Paunovic on the defeat
“It was a tough defeat. In the first half it was a very even game, both teams pushing back and forth, creating situations in attack. They had a penalty kick which they didn’t score with and we used that to spur us on - and we got a very good reaction from the players.
“We earned two 100% goal scoring opportunities which we didn’t convert. When that happens, usually in football, you concede and they were clinical with their chances. If you don’t execute your opportunities, it will go against you.
“After the first goal, we wanted to react immediately by putting more goals on the pitch. But we risked a bit too much at the back and they found a way to take advantage. We weren’t at our best tonight. But this is a huge learning opportunity for us. They executed their chances and we didn’t. That was the difference today.
“We know that we have a very important home game in just three days - we have to prepare for that and get ready. And we have to recover and re-establish how solid we were at the back and how clinical we were in attack.
“This team is good enough to win, game in, game out. But we have to go back to the fundamentals. So we have to acknowledge tonight’s defeat, absorb it and bounce back. We have to come back with personality, with pride, with the desire to prove ourselves and to prove that we are better than we were today.”
Paunovic on the side being anxious
“We started to be anxious after we conceded but we were too anxious. You can’t do that against a team which is organised, has a good spirit and came here to get something.
“We weren’t ready defensively and for the breakaways and counter attacks that define a game. So I would say I feel pain, not disappointed. You have to absorb it and quickly bounce back and convert the pain to a positive energy towards the next game.”
Paunovic on our defensive issues
“We have to acknowledge other teams for doing a good job. We have to improve our defensive awareness. When we have the ball and are about to score, we have to be ready in case we lose the ball and be close to our opponent. It was lethal today and it went against it.
“The mentality was good and everyone understands it. And we’ll work on it. We always say next game and next opportunity. We have to calm down, absorb it and convert it into a positive energy.”
Paunovic on injured players
“Meite, Moore, Ejaria, Swift are all injured. Araruna, Holmes too. In different moments they will come back. They are very important resources and support for the team. Baldock and Yiadom are back so that’s good news.
“Ejaria is closest to returning to playing. We expect him to be back for Stoke. He looks fitter than everyone else but we have to evaluate him.
“Meite and Moore - we are evaluating if they will be ready for this Saturday. It’ll be a last-minute decision.”
Paunovic on free agents
“We have weekly - it used to be daily - of people offering players and ones we have identified in the past that could be available but we are very cautious with that decision. Unexpected injuries make you rethink about that. It’s a resource we can’t ignore. We’ll look back again and re-evaluate if there is something which can be helpful”
Paunovic on being top of the Championship
“I’m the first one who is anxious to play the next game and especially when I lose, I want to play as soon as possible. I want to be cautious and not overwhelmed and put pressure on the guys.
“Everyone knows why we are here and what we have to do. Everyone will have a proper guidance and preparation for this game so we don’t have the anxiety.”
Paunovic on playing Lewis Gibson
“There is no temptation in football but I understand the point. We always evaluate on a daily basis - especially in these kinds of situations where players are having opportunities. I want to make clear when somebody is injured and a spot opens, it’s an opportunity but that doesn’t mean somebody earned it.
“With that said, the level in training and the level in games has to be proven when you have an opportunity and that’s what we’re looking for. We will see for Saturday who our best 11 will be and who can help later.”
Paunovic on McIntyre
“He had a very good first half. He fought hard with their striker but it’s not only his job to defend. We have 10 others on the field who can help so for us he had a good game.
“We don’t want to just judge his game on individual actions on the penalty or something else. We’ll review the game again, starting from myself and the staff.”
Paunovic on Rafael bouncing back
“He is a very mature player who knows how to bounce back. He’s a very good example to the rest of the guys and for the team spirit.
“We need to acknowledge, absorb and bounce back. We need to come back with personality and desire to prove ourselves that we’re better than we were tonight.”
Paunovic on Stoke on Saturday
“We have to go back to basics now - what made us win games and made us consistent so far. There is an accumulation of fatigue and injuries but we don’t want to put out any excuses.
“This team is good enough - even today if we scored our chances we would have won. It shows this team is good enough to win every game.
“We are definitely looking to go back to basics, we need to be strong in defence and clinical in attack. We have to recover this as soon as possible.”