Frustrating is the word of the day with the Royals picking up a draw against Nottingham Forest at the County Ground. A point isn’t the end of the world, but in a game that we controlled the majority of, it is definitely two missed points. Forest took the lead early in the second half through a Tom Holmes own goal - not the gift he would have wanted for his 21st birthday! Yakou Meite came on around the hour mark and saved the day to equalise with 10 minutes remaining.
The Royals remain fifth, but are now level on points with Barnsley who are sixth. There is now a five-point gap between us and Bournemouth who sit seventh.
Paunovic on the game
“In the first 25 minutes, we did control the game and everything was about us but in those moments you have to take advantage. We felt comfortable about being in control on the field but you have to kill the game. We had all the ball and it was 0-0, but that doesn’t work for us. It may work for some teams, but not us.
“We were too casual and I didn’t like that. But the players responded well and before half-time we looked like a team who had hunger.
“In the second half the players had more urgency and we pushed forward in the right way - only for us to concede the goal. I’m not happy about us losing the streak of three clean sheets in a row. But we gave a good reaction after conceding that accident of a goal and we created so many opportunities.
“We had three strikers on the field towards the end of the game and we are not afraid of that. But the equaliser came very late and we had spent so much energy getting that goal, that when more opportunities came our way we were not fresh and therefore we were not clinical.
“I’m happy with the attitude, the spirit and the identity we showed... we are not happy with the draw. Right now I can’t help it, but it feels like we lost the game. But we remain unbeaten for a fourth game - which is good for the mentality and good for the spirit and good for our momentum.”
Paunovic on being happy to have Meite back
“Very happy - it’s good for the team and expectations He got a couple of opportunities and it’s good for him. And most importantly it’s good for all of the team.”
Paunovic on whether the players realised they were too casual
“They knew they had to step it up in the second half. Conceding the goal was an accident.”
Paunovic on Meite’s goal
“The partnership between our strikers is very important. We now have more players back and more resources so we can build partnerships. Before it was Joao and Puscas, now it’s Joao and Meite. In the future we’ll see. We had three strikers on at one point and we’re not afraid of that.”
Paunovic on whether playing three strikers was planned or out of desperation
“It was planned - my vision is Joao can play as a striker. All three can exchange positions and can make it hard for a defence. If you keep your clean sheet they will find a way to score goals. I learnt in the MLS - you have to have your goals on the field.”
Paunovic on Yiadom hitting post
“It wasn’t a poor decision, it’s just about being more clinical. He had a fantastic game in attack and defence, he is so, so good.”
Paunovic on becoming more clinical
“It’s a bit of everything - if you start a game with urgency and build momentum, take it seriously and convert it, that’s when you are fresh and can be more clinical. But fatigue plays a part. Our equaliser didn’t come too late, but late enough that we spent so much energy that we didn’t convert our chances after.
“Joao had a chance and nine times out of 10 he would hit the target but his strike was blocked.”
Paunovic on the mood with Joao and the rest of the team
“He wants to score goals - if he was complacent and smiling after the game I would not be happy. It’s normal to be frustrated but I always say absorb it and channel it towards the next game.”