It was a disappointing evening at the Madejski with the Royals losing 2-1 to Birmingham, a missed penalty and potential injuries to Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite.
Jon Toral scored a brace for the away side to see us 2-0 down at half time. Yakou Meite scored with half an hour to go to make it a nerve-wrecking end for the visitors. Lucas Joao had the chance to equalise with a penalty but missed in a frustrating evening at the Madejski.
The defeat leaves us in fifth, four points behind league leaders Norwich. Veljko Paunovic felt that fatigue is now beginning to catch up with his side. He spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.
Paunovic on the performance
“The first half was not good. They had the better start and that gave them the confidence and allowed them to build their momentum from their win over Bristol City at the weekend. On the other hand, we weren’t fresh. And when they got a shot on goal, they were clinical.
“In every game we play, when I sense the urgency in our team, when I sense a bit of positive anger, and when we play with honour - we always get performances and the results. When we drop one of these or if one of these is not 100% there, it’s when we give our opponents a chance.
“In the second half, we were better. We created, we scored at the right time and then we got the penalty.
“But... and this is the crucial moment in the game... even though we missed, we cannot be affected more than we should be. People can miss penalties. It happens in football. It was one situation that didn’t work - but the attitude should be ‘let’s work and look for the next opportunity.
“It took us too long to recover from that missed opportunity. We lost precious time and then we started to rush things. We were too busy thinking about what would have happened if we’d scored - and I think we could well have gone on to win the game if we had scored that penalty.
“But you can’t dwell on it - there is no time. This is a live game, you have to get the ball down and play until the end and you have to appreciate the time you have to get back into the game.
“It’s something we have to address and improve. We have to be more mature, playing against teams who come here determined to get something from the game. We give too much to our opponents and we have to respect ourselves. I think we have to have more self-pride here in our stadium, in front of our fans. And we have to learn from this.”
Paunovic on fatigue
“I wish we started the first half like we did the second. That was the key - the intensity, the conviction, the fate...we put out the same line-up as Saturday so maybe it was fatigue, heavy legs but we didn’t look the same as in the last four games.”
Paunovic on Joao’s miss
“I always say - it’s not if you make a mistake, it’s how you react to it which bothers me. I don’t want players to think about what happened. We have to get back and recover from the mistake and refocus and seek for another opportunity.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a pass or a missed chance or a penalty - we have to refocus and concentrate on the next action. That’s all I was asking. Forget about the penalty and be ready for the next opportunity when it comes.”
Paunovic on Meite’s injury
“We’ll have to see. It was a terrible collision and it looked very awkward. We’ll assess him but it didn’t look good. I can’t tell you anything specific but hopefully it’s not as bad as it looked.
“It was a bit of everything - a body to body collision then he hit the floor and from the impact he hit the ground with his head. They still need time to assess him to see if there’s any concussion involved.”
Paunovic on Joao’s injury
“It has to be examined in the next 24 hours.”
Having both potentially missing
“We will stay positive for both to be ready but the fatigue is starting to build so we have to be aware of that and manage the team without affecting the performance.”