The Royals picked up an important point at Bristol City with a 1-1 draw on Saturday. Lucas Joao equalised after Reading went 1-0 down just before half time. We are currently seven points off the relegation zone but, with a points deduction on the way, it is an important point to pick up.
Here is what manager Paul Ince had to say; he spoke to the official club website and Reading Chronicle.
Ince on the game
“We looked comfortable coming up to half-time, there was nothing in the game, very little between the teams. They got the ball down and played some neat stuff but we’d nullified their threat – and in fact we had the best chance of the half.
“But on the stroke of half-time, we made a mistake at the back and they got lucky, the pass takes a deflection off Naby Sarr and falls nicely for Conway, whose shot takes another deflection off Amadou. It was the last minute of the half and luck wasn’t on our side.
“Conceding a goal like that just before the break can demoralise you, but not this group of players. This group will go again irrespective of what the situation is – their togetherness and spirit is fantastic.
“We made what changes we could – we had Lucas on the bench and Femi and then four kids and Deano. So we had to take risks with a change of shape and the game opened up at both ends – they had some chances as so did we.
“Lucas is a goalscorer – he’s had a tough week, been away with Angola – and he scored a penalty with them. I was going to start him today, but he was still tired from international duty – but he came off the bench and got his goal.
“I know the fans are frustrated, we all are. Me, the players, the fans, the staff. But we’ve got to stick together – because if we don’t there is only one thing that is going to happen. And, with the six points that are coming, that’s relegation.
“But to get a point here – it helps us build confidence with seven games to go.
“Every week, teams are going to win, draw, lose and it’s going to keep changing down at the bottom. One week we might lose and another team will pick up points, another week it will be the other way round. So a point today is important.
“We’ve got to stay calm. We’ve got to keep supporting these players. And we’ve got to do that until the end of the season.
“We’ve got a tough one on Friday against Birmingham City and, with seven games left, we all have to stick together if we’re going to get ourselves out of this.”
Ince on the upcoming deduction
“We’re sitting on 46 points. That’s safety in the Championship in any other year. The fact we’ve got six points coming is no fault of our own. These players, with the embargo and the bench with kids, to be sitting here on 46 points… but we’re not.
“We’ve got a tough one on Friday against Birmingham. Our home form has been decent this season but we’re playing with half a squad. Things will change each week, some will win and others won’t, that’s part and parcel. We as players, staff and fans are in this situation not because of what we’ve done. We’re also in the situation where we have to make sure we can get out of it.
“It’s tough because we thought we were getting it last week and when you’ve got something hanging over you, it’s tough. The fans are getting frustrated and the players are asking when it’s coming. I said this week and it’s not coming this week. It’s not a nice feeling to have with seven games to go. That’s something we have to deal with.”
Ince on away form
“Today was important, getting something away from home. We know our away form has not been great, so to pick up a point is a good point. There are games that we have to win. It was a great showing today. The fans spurred us on and it’s much appreciated. Everyone’s frustrated and that’s the way it is.
“If we can get something at Birmingham and Preston, we have to keep grinding out results and see where we go from there. We know we’ve got some tough ones - Burnley, Coventry and Luton. This team will keep going. For us to stay in this league, we need to all stick together. It has to be that for the next four weeks.”
Ince on injuries
“We’re asking the same players to go to the wall, every game. Teams in January brought in four or five - we haven’t. If we can do this, it will be one of the biggest achievements these players have ever done. Looking at the circumstances, nobody has eight injured players who would play in the team. If we can achieve what we want to achieve and kept this team in the league, it will be an unbelievable achievement for the club.
“We’ve got the spirit to do it, lets hope we can keep the players on the pitch. Regarding Amadou, it’s tough. He keeps going. He wants to fight for the cause. He’s had a thigh injury for a while but he just tries to get through it, like AC. He’s got a hernia problem but he’s trying to get through it to the end of the season.”
Ince on fan reaction
“I don’t understand it. I’m not sure what they were expecting. If you’re trying to win the game and you’re 1-0 - you look at your bench and see three or four kids, Lucas, Femi and a goalkeeper. I’m not sure what you’re going to change. The only people you can change who can change a game is Lucas and Femi.
“I love the fans; the fans have been great. It’s important that we all stick together. I think they were singing ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’. I was loving that because it reminded me of Bournemouth last year where they said the same thing and we equalised. If they keep singing that we’ll be fine. We are all frustrated because we want to stay in this league, but it’s important that we all stick together. If we don’t, we’ll get relegated.”