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Paul Ince Delighted With ‘Fantastic Start’ To Festive Period With 1-0 Coventry Win

The gaffer was happier with the first-half performance than the second-half one, but took plenty of positives from a crucial 1-0 victory.

Reading v Coventry City - Sky Bet Championship - Select Car Leasing Stadium Photo by Kieran Cleeves/PA Images via Getty Images

The Royals returned to league duty after the mid-season break to a fantastic 1-0 victory against Coventry City at the SCL Stadium. Amadou Mbengue’s first professional goal in the second half secured the points and moved Reading to eighth in the Championship, just one point off the play-offs.

Manager Paul Ince felt that we are not the finished package yet but have good fighting spirit. Here is what he had to say; he spoke to the official club website, Reading Chronicle and Berkshire Live.

Ince on the victory

“It’s a fantastic start. We were playing a very good Coventry team, and when they get in that final third, they play some really good football. We rode our luck – they hit the post, but we also had some chances and their goalkeeper made a great save from Yakou.

“The game-plan was working in the first half – we were switching the play and got lots of joy down the right-hand side. It felt like it was always going to be a one-goal game – it was just a case of who it was going to go to!

“Second half, we started poorly for some reason. In the first half we started sharp and we were on our game and got on the ball, the intensity was there… the second half, for some reason, we started sloppy.

“We’ve had four weeks off and it’s not easy to start again, but to come back home and get the three points is a great result for us.

“We’re a team that won’t give up. You can see the fighting spirit. We’re not saying we’re the finished article… but we fight, we’ve got togetherness, and the most important thing is that we kept a clean sheet against a very good attacking side. Over the course of the game, I’m very pleased.

“Everyone is battling for this club. Everyone has to understand where we are. We played against one of the best teams and came away with three points.

“Some of our gamesmanship was great. I thought Shane Long when he came on was immense. For someone who is 35 and who has played in the Premier League, to come here and have an impact like he did… that’s what you ask for. He showed that he wants it, and he’s an example to all of our players.”

Ince on Mbengue’s goal

“It’s great for him - he’s only a 20-year-old kid and he’s got a lot to learn and at times he is raw, but that’s with youth. He is infectious, is a tryer and wants to do well, has got plenty of pace and is a good player so to get the winner...he will be buzzing.

“The lads love him. He always comes into training with a smile on his face, he doesn’t let anything get him down and he’s going to get better and better.”

Ince on Tom Holmes

“He headed the back of Gyokeres’ head and he was fine, but all of a sudden he felt sick. We had no choice but to take him off. Ideally, we didn’t want to bring Tom McIntyre on so early because he hasn’t played for four weeks, but at Reading needs must. As much as I’m pleased with the result, I’m really pleased that we got Tom McIntyre through the game and gave Naby Sarr 25 minutes. We look like we’re getting stronger.”

Ince on Femi Azeez’s absence

“It’s horses for courses. Defensively today we weren’t the biggest team - we never have been - so it was good to have Tom McIntyre and Naby Sarr (on the bench).

“If I want someone to change a game I’m going to bring on Lucas Joao or Shane Long, especially with the way we play. I was thinking about Junior Hoilett too having just come back from the World Cup, and whether I put Femi Azeez there.

“It’s just decisions you have to make as a manager. But he will get plenty of game time. He will play on Monday for the under-21s and he is fit and raring to go.”

Ince on use of five substitutes

“There’s a realisation of where we’ve been when you look at the bench with all the kids on there. Now I’m looking on the bench and we’ve got the likes of Naby. When Shane Long came on, he was fantastic. I said to the players that if you ever want an example of someone who’s played in the Premier League and tried to make an impact to show me, he wants to start every week. The impact he made was unbelievable. He’s an example to all of you.”

Ince on World Cup Royals

“One minute you go from 18 degrees to this. It’s tough for them, especially emotionally. They equipped themselves well, but you could see them getting tired. I said to them it’s done now, the World Cup is over, it’s England’s time now.”

Ince on Birmingham test

“We might be able to get Hutch (Sam Hutchinson) back, which will be good. It gives us time to get back on the training ground. It’s been tough because the pitch has been frozen so it’s been hard to get the hours in. The stuff we worked on in Tenerife, they’re starting to get it. That’s what you want, a well-oiled team who know what they’re doing. At times we did that.”

Ince on Ovie Ejaria

“Ovie is injured, a knock against Brentford in training. He will be a couple of weeks.”