There was a lot to look forward to on Saturday, with it being the first home game of the Championship season, but also fans finally being able to return to the Select Car Leasing Stadium. Smiles were left on the faces of fans after the game too with a brilliant but nervy 2-1 victory against Preston North End.
Femi Azeez gave the Royals the lead in the first half to score his first goal for the Royals. Daniel Johnson equalised after an hour gone through a penalty but John Swift scored shortly after to score his second of the season and secure victory.
Paunovic discussed the importance of winning at home in front of our fans, but also about being the better side. He spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live after the game.
Paunovic on the victory
“It is very important to start the season with a win in front of our crowd at home, we have missed them. We played a very solid game through 85 minutes. The last five minutes were difficult, drama for us. But we ground out a very important three points.
“The momentum when we scored the first goal was building and we were getting close to scoring the second goal which would have helped definitely. That second goal would have meant we didn’t have to manage such a difficult end.
“We were the better side, we played very good football, we created chances that we should have converted. Those chances came through good football in our attack and our midfield. And that’s very encouraging. But we couldn’t take those chances.
“And they got their penalty and again when they pushed forward looking for their second in the last five minutes…we had to suffer. But we ground it out and in those moments of struggle, the players can glue.
“And I’m very grateful to the fans for the support, they know how to support the team. And they were the player up we needed to get the win.”
Paunovic on John Swift
“Swift is super talented - he showed urgency and wanted to decide the game. It was fantastic execution and vision to play Joao in. Injuries were the main issue for Swift in the past and he has been missed. It’s important to keep him healthy and motivated like he is now.”
Paunovic on Femi Azeez
“I’m very happy with Femi’s performance and his goal. I’m happy with the team coming back together with a warrior spirit and a very good defensive performance.”
Paunovic on transfers
“We have been given a framework for how we can make something happen. Then, when we do a good job with that, we present it and we were allowed to go ahead with the signing (of Dele-Bashiru). There is a limit, obviously, and we’ll look to see how far we can get but it’s going to be a question of one by one.
“I’m not anticipating anything before Bristol City on Tuesday but anything can happen in 48 or 72 hours.”
Paunovic on Tom Dele-Bashiru
“Tom is a very good player... his knowledge about the game, his technical quality and his talent to play football is enormous. It’s a huge addition for our team for many reasons, but especially because he suits the way we want to play. We see him as a very good signing.”
Paunovic on moving forward
“We took this game as our new beginning. We put the loss against Stoke in the trash for many reasons. But it was important to look at this game as the brand-new beginning. The season starts now we said to ourselves… get the win, no matter what.
“The mentality was right, attitude was right, football was right. It was exactly what we needed to happen today. We showed the warrior spirit, something we recovered in this game and something we have to carry on showing.”