Despite a 1-0 defeat against automatic promotion contenders Leeds United, Mark Bowen was proud of his players after their performance at Elland Road.
The Royals are now eight points above the relegation zone, and 14 points off the play-offs. Reading played well in the first half but Leeds hit the winner early in the second half through Pablo Hernandez.
After the game, Bowen spoke to the official club website and GetReading...
Bowen on the performance
“First and foremost, I have to pat the players on the back. We did everything right to get something out of the game, but it didn’t go for us because of one instance. The shift they put in, the desire they showed… I’m proud of them for that.
“Of course, I’m frustrated in the end. We had a game-plan, we came here and worked well at it. In the first half especially we did very well.
“But small instances change games. It starts off with a free-kick being given for a hand-ball against George Pușcaș – the referee gives a free-kick, the ball gets played wide and their player gets a bad first touch but it bobbles behind Omar, who gets a toe to it. Then it bobbles about in the box – two or three instances later, it falls to Pablo Hernandez – it’s a good finish in the end, but that’s the moment that wins or loses the game for you.
“We changed it late on to go 4-4-2 to try to press forward a bit more. Liam Moore had a chance at the end and it was possibly his own honesty which has stopped us getting a penalty. He was dragged and dragged, but he stayed on his feet even though he could have possibly had a penalty.
“Little things like that determine games, and it went against us today. But I’m proud of the shift of the work that they put in.
“The galling thing is coming here knowing we could have got something. We had a game-plan which we had worked on, and all the lads bought into. We are happy with the way we played, but in one instance they made it count. There are fine margins in this league which can win and lose you games.
“So we’re gutted because we’ve come all this way and played against a top side and deserved to come away with something – and we haven’t.
“I thought we deserved a point. The spirit is not affected by this result. We felt we should have come away with something.”
Bowen on Olise coming in
“He came in late on because Ejaria said his groin was too sore. Coming in at a place like Leeds - I thought he was outstanding.
“He’s maturing all the time and is showing me the qualities he has got when he plays. It represents a good future for the club.”
Bowen on Ejaria injury
“He came in from the warm-up and the physio said Ejaria was complaining about his groin.
“It was too sore to start the match so we had to make a decision and throw Olise into the fray.”
Bowen on taking Swift off
“We went 4-4-2 so I knew we would be pegged back a lot but knowing if the ball came to Charlie his range of passing could help create a chance.
“One gripe I had - when you come to places like this you don’t want advantage - if there is a free-kick to be given you take that because you work on your free-kicks.
“I told the fourth official to tell the referee we don’t want any advantages - he told the ref but with five minutes to go we had two possible free-kicks 30 yards out and he played on.”
Bowen on leaving Baldock on the bench
“I thought about it but Puscas is a goalscorer and I pushed Meite into the middle area.
“On another day you bring Sam on with 10-15 minutes to go - it’s just the decisions you make in the heat of the battle.”
Bowen on having Pele back
“Another good performance from him. He was very solid and it’s nice to see him back.
“We sat Rinomhota on Phillips and he did a good job - he’s getting back into the game mode now.
“We lost today but we are in a good spot as a group and we have to see off the next two home games now.”