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Veljko Paunovic ‘So Proud’ Of His Players After Hard-Fought Cardiff Win

Besides praising his team’s performance, the gaffer also had his say on how the side’s developed since the last international break and how it looks heading into the new one.

Derby County v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Veljko Paunovic said he was proud of his side at the full-time whistle after a brilliant 1-0 victory against Cardiff at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Ex-Cardiff City man Junior Hoilett scored the only goal of the game in the first half to secure three points. Reading absorbed the pressure with Cardiff having 27 shots, five of which were on target, but we held on. We now sit 10th, just two points behind QPR in sixth. After the game, Paunovic praised his side for their grit and determination, he spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live after the victory.

Paunovic on the victory

“When I heard the final whistle I was so proud. So proud of the team’s performance, the team’s spirit, the grit and determination that it took to earn these three very important points as we go into the international break.

“We earned another clean sheet with another very good defensive performance and, although at times it wasn’t pretty the way we played, we figured out how to manage the game and our reward is these three points.

“Ten minutes of injury time were signalled, which I found fair because we had a lot of injuries which needed treatment. But the team reacted very well. It was great to see the team take the ball into the corner where our fans were - a great thing to do and we got the boost we needed from our fans as we tried to keep the ball there.

“It was a tough game against a very difficult side. But we read what was going on, on the field very well… and the physical output was tremendous.

“The guys who came off the bench – Scott provided his composure and Jahmari brough us some physicality up front with his work rate. Every player worked immensely hard to grind out the result.

“And it is a huge win. A win which helps us conclude a solid month going into the international break. And the win very importantly gives us confidence, while the break will give us time to recover and time to reflect on the upcoming matches in the next part of the season.”

“After the previous international window, I knew the team was only going to get better. We had lost at Huddersfield and the players went away with their countries. A month later and look at them now. The same players with a few additions who came in late in the window. And yet look at the improvement.

“The injury list remains the main concern – with Dejan Tetek and Alen Halilovic adding to our injury list most recently. So our focus is now going to be on recovering some of the guys during this break, allowing them to have some days off to recharge their batteries.”

Paunovic on 10 minutes added on time at the end of the game

“It was a very difficult game and at the end it was a very pleasant feeling after a huge struggle in those 10 minutes of additional time which I felt was fair given the circumstances.

“We didn’t want to deliberately delay the game but our medical staff had to stop a couple of cuts and bleeding on the field in the case of Luke Southwood and Andy Yiadom.

“Those 10 minutes were very difficult although I can say at the end when I heard the final whistle I was so proud of the team, the performance, spirit and grit to earn these very important three points.”

Paunovic on Hoilett

“We’ve always liked him, even when he played against us at the beginning of last season. Our financial situation wasn’t good so when he was out there [as a free agent] we couldn’t bring him in earlier but we figured it out and are very happy to have him.”

Paunovic on going into the international break

“It’s the opposite image of the last time we had this situation. We managed the whole situation much better with internationals leaving us after the game... we are on top of improving the team and our game.

“It’s also another clean sheet and a very good defensive performance. Although at times at the end it wasn’t very pretty, we figured out how to manage the game and grind out the three points.”

Paunovic on Luke Southwood

“He is showing qualities that we were all aware of and he’s using his tools and his weapons properly as a goalkeeper. His mentality is one of those, and toughness. I’m very proud of him and his performance and what he is contributing to the team.”