Reading visited Birmingham for a Friday evening fixture under the lights with the Royals 3-0 down at half time. After an incredibly poor first-half performance Reading did stage a comeback but it was too little too late, losing 3-2.
Manager Paul Ince was not impressed with the first-half display; he spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.
Ince on the defeat
“It was really disappointing – because we gave them three goals. Sometimes you look at games and think, ‘they played some good stuff, opened us up, created their goals’. They didn’t do that to us; we just literally gave them three goals. You can’t do that, at any level.
“That’s disappointing. I’m annoyed, I’m frustrated. We got a good result against Coventry on Saturday and we fancied our chances… then after about 30 seconds we concede a goal. I thought we’d gone away from doing that. You don’t give yourself a chance.
“Thomas had a chance to go level, and Yakou had a great, great chance. If one of those goes in it changes that momentum. But then another mistake and it’s two.
“People say that whenever a team scores, there is a mistake behind it. But when it’s an accumulation of mistakes… you can’t do that. For the first goal, we made three or four mistakes on the bounce; that’s madness, that’s schoolboy stuff. You can’t do it.
“I’ll always protect my players – but I’ll also have an honest assessment. You can’t make mistakes like that. It’s not good enough and I’ve told them that. It’s not that the team didn’t play well – it’s that people made individual, easy mistakes and that’s cost the game today.
“We had 20 shots today. There’s not a lot between these two teams, and once we got the first goal, and Thomas gets the second, you think we might have half a chance. But it shouldn’t be like that.
“Ultimately I’m frustrated and I’m annoyed. And I’m annoyed for the fans because they came all this way tonight to watch us play in the freezing cold and we couldn’t give them a result.
“But by the same token, we showed a bit of pride in that second half. And that gives them something to go back down the road with; we needed to show that pride.”
Ince on his half-time talk and late comeback
“I said to them at half-time, ‘listen, you’ve put yourself in this position, you’ve got to go out there and show some pride’. We’ve got hundreds of fans coming up today in the freezing cold, you’ve got to show some pride and make sure you don’t lose the second half.
“To be fair to us, we won the second half 2-0, but it’s not good enough, and said to them after the game, you can’t keep making mistakes, you’ll get punished at any level.”
Ince on whether it is time to go back to the drawing board defensively
“No, but you can’t let teams get on the front foot when they’re at home and that’s the disappointing thing about it. Naby Sarr’s been out for seven months, Tom McIntyre’s been out for five or six weeks, so that was a positive and it was never about going back to the drawing board because you’re going to make mistakes.
“The first goal is nothing to do with the centre-halves, but if you make a mistake you want someone to come and rectify it, you have to go and save that mistake and we didn’t with the first goal, we made three mistakes, you can’t do that. If you’re making three mistakes in one, you’re going to get punished.
“It is disappointing, I’m not happy, because I felt before the game it was one we could have won. We’ve played some good stuff, I didn’t think there was much between the two teams, but listen, we’ve come away with 20 shots, which is unlike us.”
Ince on the penalty
“I’ve not seen it so I’m not going to say if it was or not. I didn’t know about the first [goal] because when you see the referee run over to the linesman, I thought ‘had we missed something there?’ I wasn’t sure what the situation was with that.
“At the end of the day, we let ourselves down defensively, and we can’t afford to do that. If you do that against the better teams you’ll get punished, you know, like Swansea, Norwich and Watford, you will be punished.”
Ince on the 11-day gap before our next game
“We will go over the game again and look at it. When you make mistakes, there’s nothing you can do better. It’s just a mistake. We will have two or three days to look at it and get on the training ground.
“We will get a bit of rest because I think we’ve got four games in 12/13 days. We have got to try and get some rest but use the next 10 to 11 days to get on the ground and start getting minutes into the likes of Scott Dann, Naby [Sarr], Tom McIntyre, Hutch [Sam Hutchinson], who is coming back, and we have Tom Holmes to come back too.
“I thought Andy [Yiadom] was very good and Mama [Loum] was very very good today. That was the Mama of old. So, I was pleased with that. I was pleased with the shots we had but I think ultimately three goals in the first 45 minutes you’re always going to struggle.”
Ince on starting Naby Sarr
“I was always going to start Naby [Sarr]. He needs his minutes, and I don’t think he’ll get the intensity in a under-21s game. The fact he came through the 90 minutes was a plus, as with Tommy Mac [McIntyre]. They’ll get better and stronger. Seven months is a long time [out injured]. They’ll keep playing, Tom Holmes will come back in and we’ll look stronger as we go forward.”