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Veljko Paunovic Praises Spirit In Error-Prone Defeat At Bristol City

The manager’s full thoughts on a 2-1 defeat at Ashton Gate as Reading’s late fightback wasn’t enough to undo defensive errors.

Middlesbrough v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

The Royals returned to action with a trip to Ashton Gate which resulted in a 2-1 defeat against Bristol City. That was Reading’s sixth defeat in a row, but with Peterborough United losing, the Royals remain in 21st. We are now 10 points behind Cardiff in 20th.

Here is what manager Veljko Paunovic had to say, he spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.

Paunovic on the game

“We are very disappointed with the result. In the second half we came very close to getting a point at least. And we were very unlucky not to get anything, we put Bristol in a difficult situation in the second half and we saw the positive reaction of the fans when we put them under that pressure.

“That reaction from the players showed me that this team is coming back together and the confidence and belief is there. They showed the capacity to work together and come back into the game – after a long and hard month that was January.

“But we conceded two very avoidable goals. And again, mistakes made the difference today.

“There is a fine line between urgency and panic and sometimes we crossed that line – we overreacted to certain situations or we gave the ball away when we didn’t need to. These things happen when you have the anxiety to win.

“The games have to be managed throughout the whole 90 minutes and sometimes we lose sight of that.

“We’re in a relegation fight and we have to find a reaction. We have to bring everyone together – which is not easy in this situation. But we are going to keep fighting. We’re going to keep pushing. We’re going to keep looking for improvement. And that needs to happen as soon as possible.

“I believe in these players. I will keep addressing those issues, keep trying to get this team to progress, working with the players to fix it.”

Paunovic on whether we deserved a point

“We were very close. Unfortunately, we missed the good chances we created. Overall, it was a disappointing result.

“In between the goals we sometimes trespassed the fine line of playing with urgency and panicking. Sometimes, we gave away the ball when we didn’t need to and we didn’t react to it. That then leads to disorder and then things happen.

“When we were organised and in a good structure, every attack looked promising and at the end most were dangerous.”

Paunovic on the fan chants

“Everyone is frustrated and feeling the pain and dealing with it. We need to keep it up and know this is not going to be fixed, just by hoping or manifesting frustration.

“It has to come back to faith, belief and trusting in each other which the team showed. The whole game there was a team performance which tells me the team believes in each other.”

Paunovic on better days ahead

“It wasn’t our best game, but compared with the January games it was definitely a much better attacking performance.”

Paunovic on Tom Ince

“He was a game-changer for us. He did very well on both sides of the ball. He’s a great example of when talent and hard work are put together and that’s what you get.

“He showed a fantastic partnership and provided help with Andy Yiadom which you need in the system. He was fantastic.”

Paunovic on Karl Hein

“He was good. It was his first game in this league. I would qualify him as neutral on the scale. It was an experience for him.”

Paunovic on signs of things turning

“I do see them, I always believe in this group and what we do. We will continue fighting, no matter what. I believe this must change in our favour.”

Paunovic on there not being enough fight in the first 70 minutes

“I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. The team was very well organised and structured and kept trying the best.”

Paunovic on the belief among the players

“It must be there. It is non-negotiable. It’s not even a question.”

Paunovic on having only four shots on target

“We can always look at specifics, but you have to look at the game as a whole. The last 15 minutes... there were a lot of blocked shots and attacking plays.

“If I’m not wrong there was a shot by Drinkwater and it was blocked by Morrison. That was unlucky but it showed the desire of the team to go forward. It wasn’t the only blocked shot. We had an anxiety to fix things. We make mistakes but that shows the refusal the team has.

“We have to convert it now to results.”

Paunovic on not starting like they finished it

“The game changes and the approach changes. There is no game which is played in the same way for 90 minutes.”

Paunovic on the relegation battle

“It’s going to be hard and we need to do better. We will keep fighting.”

Paunovic on bringing on the attacking players

“Sometimes they are an option.”

Paunovic on the best the team can do

“We recover people and have brought people in. The whole season has been like that and we’ve been looking for consistency once we have people fit. We must react now. Derby are doing a fantastic job although it is a different situation. But we have also been hit by many issues in the past year so it’s our reality.”

Paunovic on Derby reacting

“In January we got on a very bad run. They didn’t have that and did well. We are fighting our own fight and you can’t compare things. We have our own problem.”

Paunovic on Ovie Ejaria

“He picked up an injury in training so he’s out. I can’t give you more information at this point.”

Paunovic on Yakou Meite

“He played 90 minutes for the U23s and looked promising so we will see if he can be back for Saturday.”

Paunovic on Tom McIntyre

“We would like to see him play a full 90 minutes for the under-23s before he can join us but given the situation, we must speed up the process. He will provide more defensive solidness.”

Paunovic on dropping Luke Southwood

“Hein - there is definitely room for improvement but he is young and will only get better.”