After a tough couple of results for the Royals, Barnsley were the visitors to the Madejski Stadium where Bowen’s side were able to pick up an important three points.
Yakou Meite gave the Royals the lead in the first half, before George Puscas made it two in the second. Barnsley had their chances but Rafael made lots of saves to keep a clean sheet and put us eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Before the game, Bowen made five changes with Matt Miazga making his return to the starting line up after injury. Liam Moore missed out due to illness. Bowen spoke to the official club website and GetReading after the game.
Bowen on the performance
“Today, the performance was not as important as getting the win – getting three points on the board.
“It was clear to anyone here watching the game that we were not free-flowing like we can be, we weren’t easy on the eye and some of our passing movements were fractious and erratic at times. But it was important to make the right decisions on the day, that we were professional.
“When you’re not playing as smoothly as you expect to, it’s important that you have the wherewithal, the intelligence to make the right decisions at the right time and still bang out the results. And that’s what we did today.
“Before the match, I thought one little thing needed to be a telling moment and needed to go our way. And we got a bit of a scrappy goal that nestled into the bottom corner to settle things down a bit – and at half-time, I asked the lads to be professional, see the game out.”
Bowen on the clean sheet
”I’m delighted with the clean sheet – our defence was solid. Matt Miazga has been out for six weeks, and he came back in and looked like he’d never been away. Full credit to him and the rehab staff to get him in that state to come back in.
”And Rafa is enjoying his football over here and time and time again he’s saved us. Today was no different with those saves at the end of the first half and I’m sure he’ll come to our rescue again because he’s a fantastic goalkeeper.”
Bowen on making five changes
“We needed to freshen things up. After Wednesday, believe me any one of 10 could have been left out. They knew that. People coming in would perhaps have less mental baggage and hopefully that would make a difference and I think it did to a degree. We were sloppy at times and could be better but the new faces gave us a bit of an edge perhaps.”
Bowen on Barnsley having 23 shots
“I go through the stats and they’re fourth in the league for attempts. Rafael pulled off a save at half time which was key. He’s been doing that all season. For me, he’s one of the best - if not the best - keepers in this league with a rich pedigree behind him having played for Brazil.
“He keeps us in games at the right times. We were probably too far off them later on in a tactical sense, allowing them to push the ball forward and take strikes at goal but we saw it out in the end and I’m pleased with the clean sheet.
Bowen on Sheff Utd on Tuesday night
“It is a distraction but it’s a nice one. This club has got history with a couple of quarter-finals so it’s nice, for the fans and the players.
“We know it’ll be a really hard game - the whole country now knows what Sheffield United are like. They’ll come strong too but bring it on, it’ll be a good experience for us, for me and the players. We’ll have a good crowd here so it’s a nice distraction.”
Bowen on Liam Moore’s illness
“Hopefully he’ll be back on Tuesday - he was ill last night. He came in this morning and he was desperate to play but then I found out he was ill again so we sent him home.”
Bowen on Matt Miazga’s return
“He’s been six weeks out with an injury and it was if he had never been away. Full credit to him for his mental toughness and also the staff who worked with him to get him in that shape to come back with not a lot of training sessions. He really showed the qualities he’s got.”
Bowen on Puscas’ goal
“It reminded me of the goal he scored against QPR. I’m pleased for him. Like all strikers, he’ll live and die by his goals. He knows and we know he’s young, coming into this league and he has to work on his all round game.
“That has to improve and he knows that but as a finisher he showed today he’s got real good qualities.”
Bowen on Sheffield United
“I’ll pick the strongest side in my mind to go and win the game. It’s very dangerous to look too far ahead but it’s exciting to think if we could get through the tie we’ll be looking forward to a quarter-final.
“We’ve never practised penalties - you don’t know who’s going to be on the pitch at the end. I’ve been lucky as a player and a coach with penalties - it’s about being positive and striking the ball clean and well.”
Bowen on the fans
“Fans want to see their team win and I wanted to give them a home win today. We’ve done OK away from home but we haven’t won here enough recently.
”And I don’t like going into the dressing room screaming and shouting, banging heads together. So it was nice to be able to go in today and say ‘well done, you put a good shift of work in – we’ve got the three points, and let’s move onwards and upwards.’
”We’ve put Wednesday night to bed, although I’m still a bit scarred by it I think! Now we can concentrate on other things, with a big game in the FA Cup against Sheffield United on Tuesday!”