Veljko Paunovic felt the draw against Preston North End felt like a loss, after Lucas Joao missed a late penalty at Deepdale. It was a scrappy game, but the Royals did put in a solid performance and had chances to win the game. Joao had the opportunity to give Reading all three points: he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way but missed the target, summing up a frustrating performance from the striker.
The draw did extend our unbeaten run to five, and means we stay in fifth, two points behind Swansea in second, who have a game in hand over us. Paunovic felt there were a lot of positives even though the draw felt like a defeat. He spoke to the official club website and GetReading after the game.
Paunovic on the performance
“We were a little shaky in the fist 15 minutes but in general we put in a solid performance. And in the second half we were more capable of getting the ball on the ground, winning the second balls and the duels we weren’t winning in the first half.
“And we built exactly the momentum which could have culminated in a win if the result of the penalty kick had been different. So right now I don’t feel great and this draw feels like a loss. Because of the way we played, the way we built our performance throughout the course of the game.
“We had our opportunities to score, the penalty being the big one at the end of course, but today we weren’t lucky enough to convert one and take the whole three points. So yes we are disappointed. Frustrated... yes. But we have to channel these emotions towards the next game and towards the next opponent in a positive way.”
Paunovic on Joao’s penalty miss
“We have to learn that consistency, hard work, structure and organisation, our focus and our approach - which is always towards winning - usually pays off.
“We are with Lucas when he scores and when he misses. We give him support in the changing room - it happens in football. He was getting disappointed very early in the game with the way things were developing.
“But we were up against a very strong opponent who knew how they wanted to play and they made it very hard for us to play our game. So we all have to learn from today, make sure it doesn’t happen again and be sure that this disappointment serves us to help us make improvement.”
Paunovic on making one change and leaving Olise on the bench
“The team looked very solid. Sone was contributing a lot to the team in attack and defence. The reason for his change was tactical. We knew we would have more set-pieces and Alfa is stronger on that side. We knew they would try to affect our right side so we wanted to be stronger there.
“For Michael, he is our diamond in the run and we have to be careful, especially when he has issues - not a big injury but if there is a risk we can lose him for the long term then we cannot (take it).
“He has to be the last decision. I thought there was a risk he could get knocked and could be exposed to a long term injury which didn’t want to happen. If we can manage him to be pain free for the next game that’s going to be perfect.”
Paunovic on building momentum
“I’m hard on myself and when we don’t win, especially. But we are unbeaten, building our momentum and we have to still keep going.
“There are a lot of positives in our game and how we grew as a team. In the second half we conceded zero opportunities which the same team a few months ago not only scored three against us but also missed a penalty.
“At that moment we weren’t mature or compete to have the performance we did today. It feels like a loss but we played against a solid team and we didn’t concede anything in the second half.”
Paunovic on transfers
“We had conversations and this final week is going to be decisive to have success in bringing our targets. They are two players we enquired (about) and are working towards getting done but it’s still too early.”
Paunovic on Joao post-match
“I told him ‘we are with you when you score and when you miss. It’s okay, just keep your head up and make sure when you walk out the stadium your body language is confident’ and we move on.”
Paunovic on penalty taking
“He is assigned (as penalty taker) and against Birmingham he missed a penalty and got injured in the last minute. Since that game we’ve been practising penalties consistently because I know how important it is for the players to recover their confidence when they miss a penalty.
“So daily - every day after training our penalty takers will stay and practise. We showed the players even today their training to help them build confidence.
“And for him after his injury, the must-do thing, as well as the personalised fitness work, he had to take penalties. When you’re out there the pressure builds and it’s not easy. We’ll continue practising and learn from it.”
Paunovic on the penalty appeal in the first half
“There was contact from where we were. We all reacted to it but we got our opportunity in the second half. I think it was a penalty but it wasn’t called. I wish we don’t need to wait for one or two situations before the calls are made.
“I would have preferred the penalty in the first half and we would have known the outcome we would have got. This is football and we will learn from our mistakes and we hope that everyone has the same approach - every part that is involved in the game.”