The Royals completed a second-half comeback at the Select Car Leasing Stadium against Watford on Saturday. Reading were 2-0 down, with it looking like it was going to be back-to-back league defeats, but a second-half comeback saw the Royals pick up an important point against The Hornets.
Goals through Tom Ince and Jeff Hendrick mean we stay in 16th, 11 points off the relegation area and six points off the play-offs. Manager Paul Ince was pleased with the spirit and character that his side showed to grab a point. He and his assistant manager Alex Rae were on media duty. Here is what they had to say; they spoke to the official club website and Reading Chronicle.
Ince on the performance
“In the first half, there was nothing between the two teams. We probably had the better chances in fact, but a lack of concentration in the marking at the back and we come in at half-time 1-0 down. So I said to the lads at half-time, ‘stay in the game’. Let’s not go gung-ho, if there’s only one goal in it we’ve got a chance – especially at home in front of our fans.
“But again, we don’t mark in the box. And you’re thinking it’s going to be a long afternoon. I don’t want to be going 2-0 down at home again - against a team with their resources, who are so high in the table!
“However, sometimes this team has capitulated. This time, they didn’t. And that shows the spirit and the character of the players.
“We got the penalty thanks to some fantastic work from Shane Long. He’s 36 now and he’s still so quick – I certainly wasn’t that quick when I was that age, that’s for sure.
“It was a great penalty. And you could see the whole place change. In football, everything can change on one moment. All of a sudden, the crowd are up and Watford start to look a bit nervous – and I think it was just a matter of time before we got the second.
“They had a goal ruled out and it was offside. We all moan about referees and officials, because sometimes they will just let those decisions go and they don’t change it. But credit to them they made the right decision today.
“And the second goal was a wonder goal from Jeff. He’s a wonderful player and a proper professional. And for someone who is on loan from Newcastle – he feels like he is part of us. A lot of loanees will know they are going back in three months’ time and not want to be part of it. But he wants to be part of the club. And I’m so pleased he has started adding goals to his performances.
“Then near the end we could have nicked it. And when you get a chance in the last minute, you’ve got to hit the target. I always tell my strikers, if you hit the target, you’ve got a chance of scoring. But that one at the end got away from us – it goes in and we win the game 3-2 and take all three points.
“We showed our spirit, the fans got behind us – and I had mixed emotions in the final minutes; did I want to hear the whistle so we get a point from two goals down or let’s have another five or ten minutes and go and see if we can win it. But I’m really proud of the boys for the second-half performance.”
Rae on chances to win it
“In the 88th minute we had an opportunity and a couple of chances, but they will think that they could have nicked it at some point as well, so it was end-to-end. It’s another point on the board. Our home form has been pretty decent and you can see that in the way they go about their business, they’re very determined and try to put on a show.”
Rae on the first half
“We had some words with them at half-time, it was just that one moment in the first half where we switched off structurally and were picked off. If you do that at this level, you get punished. It’s not the ideal start we were looking for. For the equaliser with Jeff, Thomas has recognised him at the back post, and it was a terrific strike. We will take the point and move on.”
Rae on the equaliser
“It was a recognition from Thomas. Having seen it back Jeff has his hand up. Having said that, the ball’s travelled 45 yards and to execute that, we were delighted. Sometimes you have to think outside the box.”
Rae on the offside Watford goal
“It’s a great call because he’s a yard in front of him and blocking his eyeline so it was an easy enough decision to make. Thankfully he called it because we’ve seen a few that have been missed.”
Rae on Cesare Casadei
“We only got him in the door in the early part of this week so it’s a big ask to ask him to come in. He showed some good signs, good moments, and he’ll be better for it. It’s okay playing under-23 football but it’s a great opportunity to play with guys at this level on a weekly basis. He’ll get better and stronger as the weeks go on.”
Rae on Thomas Ince penalty duty
“He was. I was with him yesterday and he took a couple. He’s quite a confident lad and he was rattling them into the top corner so I’m thinking to myself just do the same as he did yesterday. The execution was excellent, and he didn’t give the keeper much of a chance.”
Ince on Femi Azeez’ cameo
“He was very powerful and direct, exactly what we’re looking for from him. He gave us a level of energy on the left-hand side, and he deserves a lot of credit. He’s been patient and he’s been injured so it would have done him the world of good today.”