After a tough time for us all, it was amazing to have the Championship back. The Royals put in a confident performance, but a last-minute equaliser from Stoke City meant the honours were even.
Lucas Joao scored within the first 10 minutes to put the Royals ahead. John Swift almost made it two after he hit the post with a free kick but Nick Powell salvaged a point for struggling Stoke.
It’s fair to say that Mark Bowen felt we were robbed and should have been leaving the Madejski Stadium with three points. He, socially distanced of course, spoke to the official club website and GetReading after the game.
Bowen on the result
“It was very frustrating, I thought we played well for long periods of the game. We were a bit rusty in our decision-making at times when we were in good positions. But you get to the stage where it’s a case of seeing the game out and you hope we do.
“You’re playing a game against a team like Stoke, with the big centre half Batth and Vokes up front, maybe you’re not going to get the first contact when the ball comes into the box, but even more important therefore that the players organise themselves to get the second contact and clear the danger.
“And one or two of the players stood by and just expected Morrison or Moore to head the ball clear. And that lack of concentration at that time cost us. It’s really frustrating.”
Bowen on the referee’s performance
“We had some crowd noise piped in the stadium which hopefully would have drowned out some of the expletives that came from me during the last part of the game. I think the referee raised my blood pressure a few times. We had two stonewall penalties which weren’t given – he’s closer than most people in the stadium.
“John Swift was coming onto a shot on the edge of his box, his ankles were taken from him, nothing was given and they broke and nearly scored at the other end! I was smiling it was so comical. I’m not going to use it as an excuse for us switching off at the end, but the game should have been way beyond Stoke by the time they scored.”
Bowen on a play-off push
“It’s more frustrating because I look at the teams above us and there were a few drawn games and few lost and we would have put ourselves in a good position to make a jump into that top ten.
“I’ll never give up on a push for the playoffs until it’s mathematically impossible. There is no such thing as seeing out the season for me – we’re looking above us and trying to win games to push us up there.”
Bowen on Lucas Joao’s injury
“It’s a frustrating time because he was a big focal point for us and it threw us a bit when he came off. He said he didn’t feel anything pull so he’ll have to have a scan no doubt and we’ll have everything crossed he’ll be fit and available soon.”
Bowen on out-of-contract players
“We’ve got a squad of 29 which will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season. We want to keep them and keep them involved in the games. The bigger squads will definitely have an advantage so that’s important but I’m fully aware the lads going in to next season - the club has got a tricky time coming up ahead because everything we do has to be compliant with FFP.”