Is our play-off challenge now over after a disappointing 1-1 draw against Hull City at the Madejski Stadium? We are now 11 points behind sixth with three points yesterday vital to help our push. Jordan Obita gave the Royals the lead in the second half but Hull equalised later on to secure a point.
Bowen on the game
“We were short of our best today. Way short. That may have been a bit of a hangover after we played two hours in the FA Cup down in Cardiff on Tuesday night, but we looked a little lethargic in our play, a little slow, a bit jaded.
“But we got ourselves in front in the game and it was a case of seeing it out. Ovie does some magical things in the box, his shot goes just wide and then a long kick down the other end, we miss a header, we don’t defend it right even though we had players in the box and we’ve given away two points.
”I think we switched off for a few moments, we let our concentration slip for a few seconds. But we were well short today.”
Bowen on our performance
“The standards we’ve set as a group, I know the qualities my players have got and we weren’t able to show them today - so I was frustrated from start to finish. We were sloppy in possession and fatigued, not just physically but mentally too. And we’re sitting here disappointed.”
“We’ve got a big game now here against the league leaders on Wednesday night and I expect a reaction from the team. We’ve got to get back to knowing what we do well as a team, being a bit braver in possession. And we’ve got to physically and mentally recover and in terms of performance I’ll be asking them to bounce back against West Brom on Wednesday.
“If you continually draw games, you stand still in the table. And we’ve drawn too many games of late. When I took over as manager this team were in the bottom three and we’ve done well to get ourselves away from that. Now we’re comfortable but perhaps a little bit too comfortable in mid-table. So we’ve got to start winning games again.”
Bowen on whether it was two points lost
“Definitely so. I thought we looked jaded and fatigued at times, whether that was coming out a hard fought game at Cardiff in the week...our passing game wasn’t at it as a team and as individuals. You’re looking to be in charge of your own destiny on the pitch and today became like a basketball match because we were so sloppy in our passing at times.
“We got our noses in front and were looking to see the game out. It was a long kick from the keeper, a header and it was four against two for us but we didn’t defend it right. There was a deflection but in my opinion as an ex defender I thought it was poor defending on our part.
“It’s two points lost - we have to be more focused and more professional in the things we do on the pitch in recognising certain situations. As a group we know we weren’t at the standards we’ve set for the majority of the time since I’ve been in charge.”
Bowen on what needs to change
“We need to be a bit more clinical when we do get in the right areas. We are not a team that creates loads and loads of chances but when we do we need to be more clinical. We have to be more focused on when we’ve got the ball, stick to the game plan and make sure we control it better.”
Bowen on Gunter’s injury and Araruna’s debut
“Chris tweaked his groin. He said he felt it straight away and pulled up. My idea was not to use Felipe straight away as he hasn’t had a lot of football. I was hoping as the game wore on to introduce him in the second half.
“He showed the qualities we brought him here for - his passing. But it wasn’t ideal because that was one of our subs gone and with Obita he got his goal but he’s played more minutes than anyone in our squad over the past three weeks.
“His hamstrings were tight going into the game but I know the qualities he brings to us. Nearly every game he plays he seems to get a goal or an assist.
“As a coach I looked at an easy sub between him and Omar - they’re quite like-minded players. But I had to protect him and we have enough injuries as it is with defenders. No reflection on Omar but once Jordan went off the temp in our play dropped. It was probably physical and mental fatigue though.”
Bowen on whether starting with three at the back was negative
“No because anyone who says that doesn’t know what we do and how it works. If you look at stats of teams who play three and four at the back it makes absolutely no difference. It’s not a negative thing. If you play three at the back it means you have two full-backs going forward, can get an extra man in midfield and can play two up front.
“Before the last game half of the games we’ve played in charge we’ve played three and in the other half we’ve played four and our goal difference is exactly the same for both periods.
“It should give you more opportunities going forward (with a three). But with Miazga and McIntyre out, Yiadom is just coming back - we have a few injuries to defenders. Morrison played two hours in the week and Blackett was involved as well, Moore is coming back from a foot injury so they are coming back into things.
“It’s the nature of this league - you don’t get a lot of time to work with the players.”
Bowen on Injury latest
“Yiadom played with the U23s at Swansea today. Hopefully he’ll be in the frame for Wednesday against West Brom. McIntyre out for another four weeks at best, Miazga possibly another three weeks. Gunter - I don’t know how long. He pulled up straight away so until he has a scan we’ll see.”
Bowen on four 1-1 draws in past six
“Each game was different. We were the better side against Forest in both games. Today was two points lost. We’re disappointed we didn’t see the game out.”
Bowen on whether it was tempting to bring on Adam
“It was - but it was tempting to bring on six players at half time because I thought we were genuinely miles off what we could be and should be producing.
“We left it as it was and my hand was forced a bit with the full-backs’ situation. I brought Aluko on to get the ball between the lines to Meite and make us play through there. He tried and it didn’t quite work but I was left with only one extra body I could bring on.
“Swift looked jaded after putting in a hell of a shift during the week. As a group and a team we have to make sure we freshen up and recover mentally and physically for a big test on Wednesday.”