The festive period fixtures continued for the Royals with their third game in a week. This time the Royals visited West Bromwich Albion with the home side coming out victorious. The Baggies came out strong and Joe Lumley made some great saves to keep us in the game early on. The hosts took the lead in the 60th minute through Daryl Dike to secure the three points.
Reading now sit 12th, three points off the play-offs. Manager Paul Ince said the team were suffering with fatigue after the festive fixture pile-up. Here is what he had to say; he spoke to the official club website and the Reading Chronicle.
Ince on the defeat
“We looked a tired, jaded team and we started very slow - but we’ve been relying on the same players to produce in their third game in less than six days. They’ve had an extra day off, as did Norwich at the end of last week, so we knew what was coming.
“But we took a bit of time to get to grips with it. They came out of the blocks and we could have been two or three goals down before we knew about it were it not for an absolutely fantastic performance from Joe Lumley.
“We were lucky to go in level at half-time but we played well in the second half. We let ourselves down with the goal though. We talked about blocking and stopping crosses but the first cross they get in in the second half we’re not organised in the middle and they score from it.
“And we’re chasing the game. But we kept ourselves in the game. Too many times you’ve seen us capitulate and get beat by three or four. We’re not doing that now. We’re staying in games, and that always gives you a chance.
“We looked comfortable for a lot of that second half. And we should equalise – Baba has a great chance four yards out and has got to score. Sometimes you wish they’d fall to Lucas or someone like that and then we come in at 1-1 at the final whistle. We didn’t deserve to be in it at half-time, but in the second half we were good.
“It’s been a tough gig over the last week or so. We’ve had an away game at Norwich, a couple of days off, and then we’ve come up to West Brom – we haven’t had any favours with our schedule that’s for sure. But our spirit and togetherness got us through, and the encouragement from the fans who were great today.
“We have to keep going, keep accumulating points. The lads are disappointed in there because there was nothing in the second half. But what the players have achieved, playing in three games in less than six days, it’s is a miracle”
Ince on the festive period
“They’re great results. We played three games in less than six days. It’s absolutely ridiculous. We’ve been to Norwich, get back at two in the morning and you have two days before going up to West Brom. Three tops teams who are very possession-based and we’ve played in less than six days. Ludicrous. To come away with four points, I’m more than delighted.”
Ince on Tom Holmes and Naby Sarr
“Tom Holmes is ill and has been for the last couple of days. Sarr, after the Norwich game his calves were ready to explode. You can’t risk him. We had the conversation yesterday and if it goes again, he’s out for another 10 weeks. I can’t have Naby Sarr out for 10 weeks, that’s for sure.”
Ince on Mamadou Loum
“He’s been outstanding. When he first came to us we thought ‘wow, we’ve got something special’ but for some reason he’s gone away from that. Since he’s come back, he’s looked fresh. He’s not played in the World Cup, which is disappointing for him, but he’s come back and looks like a completely different player. When he does it properly and the basics well, he’s a top player. When he starts overcomplicating it, I come down on him.”
Ince on Scott Dann
“It wasn’t the plan. The Yids, Tom Holmes and Naby is my three, today I’ve lost two of them. You are always wary of if Scott Dann can make it through 90 minutes but he’s old school. He’ll get another 90 against Watford so hopefully we’re getting some players back.”
Ince on the FA Cup
“I definitely won’t go fully for it. You’ve got to be fair to fans because the fans love the FA Cup and they’re spending good money. You look at what we’ve done, three games in under six days, some of my key players and mainstays will get a rest. I’m sure most clubs will do that. I don’t want to disrespect the trophy; I was fortunate to win it twice. I know what it means to fans to have those days out - we want to beat Watford. Whatever team I put out will be capable of winning the game.”
Ince on Amadou Mbengue and Andy Carroll
“The Christmas period has been so rushed it’s been hard to focus. Hopefully by next week or the week after we’ll have some news on both of them. I’m pretty confident both will be here until the end of the season. It is just a case of getting the numbers.”