Reading stood strong but two late goals meant that Brentford came out the winners at the Madejski on Wednesday evening, with the score finishing 3-1. The Royals put in an outstanding performance, and were unlucky to not pick up at least a point. Veljko Paunovic said the result hurt, but was proud of the display they had put in.
Lucas Joao gave Reading the lead in the first half with a penalty, before Josh Dasilva equalised 10 minutes later. It was then a very tight game, but Brentford’s dominance in the second half paid off and Ivan Toney scored two goals quickly to secure a 3-1 win to move The Bees to the top of the Championship table. Reading go down to fifth, seven points behind Norwich in second.
Paunovic on the performance
“An incredible game of Championship football... I’m very proud of every single one of our players. I think we showed real spirit. In the first half we were a fantastic team. The second half too, until we concede that second goal. We started as we wanted - from the beginning we brought the ball in their half, to create opportunities from open plays and to force them to commit fouls and concede set plays.
“We got a penalty kick which was converted. And we should have scored another one. That would have given us the advantage we were looking for in the first half. And we had opportunities, Josh Laurent did that fantastic move - did almost everything right until the final execution... even that was great but it was a great save from the keeper.
“This is the only thing we lament, the fact we didn’t make it a two-goal advantage in the first half. But if we continue to play this way in future games we will always have a better outcome to the one we have tonight.
“Even against a team like Brentford today, who really showed a lot of quality. We weren’t intimidated. We played our game, we played our way, and that is what is required to be a player at Reading Football Club. We matched them. The players can be proud of themselves. And they should go into every single game with the confidence that we are contenders.
“There is still a long way to go of course. But when you play against teams like Brentford, that’s when you can measure yourself. And you understand how good you are... or not. And today we put in a very good performance. It was just the result that was not good.
“We are proud. We are sad and it hurts that we have lost... so it’s not a good feeling tonight. But we also have to know that we now have a stretch of five games where we can get back on track.
“When we look back, we can say we are playing good football and we are a good, solid side. And there is nothing to worry about... unless we change our minds and we don’t put in what we put in day in, day out... the commitment, hard work, structure, organisation and add talent on top of that.”
Paunovic on our top two chances
“We have 18 games and I’m always consistent - it’s about winning the next game and then we will see. At this point, we have to stay in the top six and the marathon is still not over. When we get closer we’ll adjust our goals properly but we are not giving up on anything.”
Paunovic on Meite and Swift injuries
“First it’s human disappointment because we don’t like to see players suffering with injuries. In the case of both, it’s a recurrence so that’s hard to see. They are very important to us and are proven players who can change games. Both are attacking and creative and can take set-pieces like Swift and we missed that today.
“Losing someone like Yakou who can stretch the lines - his directness, athleticism, power and the hunger to score goals; and losing Swifty, he can give us more and be an alternative to Olise at set pieces.
“They give us more weapons and it’s big not having them personally so I feel sorry for them but I want to stay positive in the case of Yakou. He will be assessed weekly and in Swift’s case we will know more tomorrow after his examination.”
Paunovic on Yiadom and Semedo
“It’s next man up. They were ready and Andy produced a very good performance. He can play 90 minutes without a problem. He’s coming back from a long injury but we’ll reassess him in the next couple of days. There is not much time turnaround and hopefully he’ll be ready for Saturday.”
Paunovic on having enough strength in depth for rest of season
“We went with the team we have so far and will continue with that. We believe in every single one when they are called up and they have delivered in the past so there are no reasons to think differently. That’s only what we can control.”