What an away day win this could have been! But of course, safety comes first and we can always celebrate at home! The Royals left Kenilworth Road with all three points in a superb 5-0 win against Luton Town.
Yakou Meite was no doubt man of the match with four goals, with George Puscas also getting on the scoresheet. It was a good all-round performance. Mark Bowen made five changes going into the game and they paid off. The Royals now see themselves in 13th, eight points above the drop zone.
Bowen on the performance
“We played a very good side in Brentford on Tuesday night and that was part of the reason for the result in midweek - but we also didn’t approach it in the right way. So we’ve been banging the drum with the players - from the staff and from the players themselves... today we had to be on the front foot.
“Everything we did, whether we had the ball or we didn’t, we had to be proactive instead of reactive. And that’s what I got. Five goals, but those chances only come if you put the ball in the right areas and if you are positive in everything you do.”
Bowen on making five changes
“The lads who came in have been working hard and waiting for their opportunity. I gave it to them today and they came out and put in a great performance. Like Jurgen Klopp said with the Liverpool lads, we’ll only put youngsters in if they deserve it. I haven’t just made changes for the sake of it. The lads coming in were hungry to get in, show their worth and ready to go. And they didn’t let me down.
“The young lads are the future of the club. We had five Academy players on the pitch at the end there. And they can do it. I had no fear with Gabe and Tom that they’d slot into that situation, especially with Michael Morrison in there and Tyler was excellent too coming back into the team.”
Bowen on Meite’s performance
“He came to see me yesterday and tried to put a case forward for playing as a number nine. He wanted to play as a central striker but I told him you can find more space coming in from the channel. After the game he looked at me with a wry smile so I think I won that argument with him.”
Bowen on Meite’s goals
“It was about the quality of the finishing for me. He showed quick feet - sometimes there has been criticism levelled at him for those silky skills. The way he finished his goals today was exemplary. He’ll push on this hopefully. He thrives on confidence like any player.
“I ask him to play that wide role and there are so many things to his game that I look at. He tracks full-backs, he’s a handful in the air and he puts a real shift in him so I’m delighted for him.”
Bowen on finishing the season strongly
“You’ve got to give everybody something to push for - it looks as if we can’t reach the play-offs but that doesn’t mean we should switch off. If we can’t get top six we’ll strive for top 10 and if not top 12. There’s always something to play for. I don’t want the players to see it out, we’ll try and push them on.”
Bowen on the young players’ display
“I was proud there were five academy players on the pitch at the end - they are the future of the club and I hope they will all be here next year.”
Bowen on giving Swift the captaincy over Morrison
“I spoke to Morrison and whether he had the armband or not it wouldn’t change his performance or attitude. He’ll go out and be a leader anyway. So with that in mind I looked at others and Swift is the senior head in the midfield and he deserved. He’s not one of those who will scream and shout but he leads by being brave and trying to get on the ball all the time.”