The Royals picked up a good point at Carrow Road in a 1-1 draw against Norwich City on Friday night. Andy Carroll slotted home a late penalty to secure a point. We are now 10th in the Championship, alongside four teams, all on 36 points.
Manager Paul Ince was very pleased with the point. Here is what he had to say, he spoke to the official club website and the Reading Chronicle.
Ince on the performance
“It was a very good point. Beating Swansea at home on Tuesday took a lot out of us, so to come here to play against a very good footballing team who have just lost their manager, in a stadium full of fans who were really up for it, and to get a draw – we fought for it.
“Towards the end of the first half the home fans were starting to groan and grumble and that was part of our gameplan. That was half the job done.
“In the second half we came out and played some good stuff, we got the ball down and passed it well – they got the goal which was disappointing, losing headers to Sargent and then it falls down to Idah.
“But you’ve watched these players. They never give up. They’ve got a fight about them. A determination. And they were holding on, we were all over them especially down the right side. Lucas had one cleared off the line and Yakou had a chance and we got our goal.
“I’m pleased that Nesta got the gametime he’s deserved. In training he is a player who is always saying he is ready to go. He’s never let his head drop and, attacking-wise, he is probably our best full-back.
“He’s still a kid of course, he’s got a lot of learning to do still. But he gets to the byline, he’s got nice feet and I felt we needed that when Tommy Mac was getting a bit tired. And he won the penalty for AC to put in the back of the net.
“And AC was unbelievable. Any striker should watch him today, not just up the park but running back and playing left-back and clearing in our box. He’s 33. That is DNA. That is desire.
“So I just told the players how proud I was of them. To beat Swansea, to then travel three and a half hours up to Norwich, we won’t get back until 2 or 3 in the morning and then we’ve got to travel up to West Brom on Sunday – people are asking a lot of us. But all we do is dig in and fight. We did that again today.
“We’re nowhere near the team we want to be. We haven’t got the best players in this division, we aren’t the best team in this division, but we’ve got something special with this group of players.”
Ince on four-point week
“It’s a great return. We’re miles away from where we want to be, but there’s something special about this group of players. If I’d have said Swansea, Norwich away and West Brom away and we would have picked up four points you’d be happy with that. Now we go up to West Brom, who have been playing well at the moment. I thought the lads were excellent today.”
Ince on defending
“When you think about today, Naby Sarr has been out for three months, Tom McIntyre for six weeks, they will get stronger and better. We managed to keep them down to two goals in both games. Pukki is a great player, his runs are hard to deal with and at times they came out hot.
“They’ve just lost their manager, which is a sad thing to see, so I said to the players that the crowd will be up for it and that there will be a response. If we could keep them quiet for the first 15 minutes, then we will be okay. Pukki had a chance that Joe [Lumley] saved but other than that you could hear the crowd moaning and getting apprehensive. That was half our job done. That’s a credit to the players.
It was a case of sustaining that into the second half. [Josh] Sargent should not be winning the header for one, and it’s a great finish from [Adam] Idah but there were lots that we went over this week that we didn’t do and it’s cost us a goal.
“You’re thinking just stay in the game, and after that we were all over them, especially down the right-hand side. Lucas [Joao] should have scored, Yak [Yakou Meite] so these are what those players will do. We’re not the best players or the best team but they fight for each other and that’s what we saw today.”
Ince on his choice of strikers
“Yak is not at a level where he can play three games in six days. It’s a lot for anybody, especially the workload we are putting in, so for the same people to play is virtually impossible. AC [Andy Carroll] has played again today, how he will come out tomorrow I’m not too sure, but it’s good when you have four strikers that you can mix-and-match.
“I thought Lucas always has a goal in him and I said to him that I don’t want to be picking a team with you not in it. We’ve got four strikers who can say I want to be number one. At the moment, that’s not the case, and it gives me a decision to make every week.
“AC was unbelievable, for some of his age with his work rate. Everything about him frightens the life out of people. If you want to see what a striker does, look at that game because he had everything to it. He was unreal.”
Ince on Nesta Guinness-Walker
“We looked at the bench and I thought there was no point having two wing backs with Nesta [Guinness] and Baba so I was that close to saying Nesta. Attacking-wise he’s our best wing-back. He’s been great in training. He’s been frustrated that he’s not been playing but most players are.
“His training has been unreal and he’s always telling me he wants to be in the side and that’s what you want. I’m really pleased with him and I’m glad we managed to nick a point out of it.”
Ince on Sam Hutchinson
“It’s too soon. We need to understand that people are training but not always ready to play. I was pleased that Liam Moore got 45 minutes today [in a friendly with West Ham] with no issues. Hutch should be back on the training ground after West Brom, but I am really looking forward to the next game now.
“I’m proud of the lads, they were out on their feet at times playing against two possession-based teams who keep the ball really well. Credit to the players and the fans for travelling, it was nice that they can go back down the motorway with a point.
“I haven’t seen it, but if it was the other way around, I’m sure they would have said it was a penalty. I thought we should have had one with Lucas in the first half. At the end of the day, I think a point is a fair result. You look at all these things, but the referee is in a great spot and for me it is a foul.”