The Royals failed to hold on to a lead at Cardiff City with manager Mark Bowen admitting his side hurt after their 1-1 draw. The same scorers were on the scoresheet from the last time we played each other last week; Yakou Meite found the net early on to put the Royals ahead, before Callum Paterson equalised in the second half.
Bowen on the game
“You’re always gutted when you’re in front in a game but don’t win - but we stood up to the challenge. It is always a huge physical challenge here, and we’ll have it again on Tuesday when we come back.
“West Brom came here last week and went under. So you have to be brave and put up with direct football and second balls. We did all that. The goal that they scored was about the 20th long throw that they had; Michael Morrison got his head to it first, and unluckily for us it came off the post and back into play and fell to their player.
“We will always strive, and see whether we could have been a bit better when it came to playing our game and when we had possession. Yes, we could have to a certain degree. We’ll take an away point that’s hard earned. But, again, it’s difficult to come away with just one point because you think maybe we should have won it.
“We set ourselves high standards, right across the board. Where we want to go in the table and in every game we play.
“Sometimes we’re judged a bit too harshly – and I’m the players’ biggest critic and I know that. We have a good group here – we’ve come from the bottom three and we’ll keep trying to pick up points. We’ve had two defeats in the last 14 games so we know we’re heading in the right direction.
“We will always judge ourselves harshly because we want to win games. But we are picking up points and moving forward.”
Bowen on no wins in five
“It depends how you look at things - I look at it as we’ve lost two in 13. I took over a team that was in the bottom three in the Championship and we’ve lost two in 13. I hate negativity about the place - why? The players are giving me everything the majority of the time and I’m their biggest critic when they don’t. But when we’ve not performed like we should have as a group we’ve always bounced back with a performance.
“We were down in our intensity in the 1-0 loss to Bristol City but we gave ourselves a better platform to win the game tonight. As a group we are strong and still developing. We’ve brought two players in who will strengthen us and we’ll move on.”
Bowen on close battles with Cardiff
“I never thought I’d say this but I think I’ll be sick of coming to Wales by Tuesday night! It’s a difficult place to come but we both know there is a home draw in the next round so that’s exciting for everybody. Some teams you think you can catch on a bad day but they don’t seem to have many bad days.”
Bowen on FA Cup selection on Tuesday
“We’ll keep striving to get there [the play-offs] but if we’re not winning games you don’t climb the table. It puts a different slant on Tuesday’s game. I don’t know what my team will be yet but I’ll certainly be thinking a team that’s strong enough to come here and win the game.
“We’ve got competition for places now. I’ll give the players a few days to rest and recover but we’ll look at Cardiff and what we can do to combat them.”
Bowen on a change of formation
“The idea is to give the strikers more ammunition and more bodies around them. It certainly helps them. They’ll give everything they’ve got. Maybe with Joao he’s happier playing on his own sometimes whereas the others are more reactive players off certain situations.
“I think I’ll possibly stay with that - it certainly helps the striker situation but in doing so we have to be solid at the back. If you’re looking at three in the midfield it gives you an extra body.”
Bowen on lacking the final ball
“One tiny disappointment was they could probably have tried to get on the ball a bit more and a bit more quality down the channels.
“We needed a bit more quality 30 yards out. It’s hard because you’re expending so much energy with what they throw at you but you have to try and switch on and show coolness when we do have the ball.
“Getting that transition in your mind is difficult.”