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Noel Hunt Remains Positive Despite 2-1 Loss At Coventry

Despite a frustrating defeat at Coventry, Reading’s interim boss emphasised his players’ spirit heading into the final two games of the season.

Coventry City v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The Royals’ hopes of staying up took a turn for the worse with a 2-1 defeat against Coventry City at the Coventry Building Society Arena. Matt Godden gave the home side the lead in the 36th minute, but Lucas Joao equalised in the second half to give Reading a chance. Gustavo Hamer scored minutes later to secure a big three points for Coventry.

Results elsewhere didn’t go our way so, with two must-win games to go against Wigan Athletic and Huddersfield Town, it is full steam ahead. Here is what interim manager Noel Hunt had to say. He spoke to the official club website and Reading Chronicle.

Hunt on the defeat

“We knew how good they were before the game and they started very strongly, they moved the ball quickly and it took us a little while to settle into the game.

“Maybe we were a bit leggy in that first half, I tried to freshen it up with Mamadi and giving Ty a rest after the shift he has put in in the last two games. But Coventry started much better than us, doing to us what we wanted to do to them. And a mistake from us and a great finish and they get the goal.

“After half-time, we came out, had some good passages of play and scored a good goal and then we switched off. I think Jeff had been off the pitch and had just come back on, maybe that left us a little bit exposed and then they get a bit of luck, the ball falls for them after a good block - but we’ve got to restart the game with a much sharper mindset.

“In the second half, we had to throw a bit of caution to the wind. In the last 15 minutes we put some pressure on and we created more chances, Lucas had a couple of headers which I’m sure he’ll be disappointed with. And we had a couple of ball in the box which we just couldn’t latch onto. And on another day, something might have fallen for us.”

Hunt on the next two games

“In the dressing room, the boys are obviously disappointed. But we have to get our heads up again. They know what is at stake and we’ve got to pull together and prepare for next Saturday.

“I won’t have to pick the players up. They’ll pick themselves up for Saturday. From Joe to Scott Dann, from AC to Shane, there are unbelievable characters in that dressing room. They make my job easier in that respect.

“We’ve still got a lot to fight for. A lot to play for. There is a lot of fight in that dressing room, so we have to dust ourselves down. We now have two big games coming up. And we start with Wigan this weekend.

“We have to focus on ourselves this week and make sure we’re right for next Saturday – how we’re going to get a result at home to Wigan. We’ve got to stay together this week, put a plan in place for Wigan at the weekend and then go out and execute it!”

Hunt on Coventry’s second goal

“It’s a bad tackle, I don’t care how quick the game is. They slow it down and it looks bad. If Jeff slides for the ball and gets the ball, and the kid slides into him, it’s a bad foul and a booking. There were three or four pull-backs and intentional fouls brushed under the carpet.

“There was a handball - we had someone sent off for an accidental handball on Wednesday and there was nothing given. They make up the rules as they go along, it’s horses for courses. It annoys me that one referee can have a preference to something over another referee.

“It doesn’t matter - the result is the important thing. The boys are disappointed, but I said get your heads up, there are plenty of good things to take from it and we’ll work for next Saturday.”

Hunt on other results

“I want to stay in our game and focus on our team, what will be will be. The results won’t change around us because I’m thinking about them. For us, it was about staying focused on what we could do on the pitch.

“After you see the results, and at this time of year you generally get a couple of mad results. We’ve got to keep focused and stay on our page. We’ve still got a lot to fight for and play for, so we will start with Wigan.”

Hunt on injury returns

“They’re breaking their backsides to come and play. They’re weeks and months ahead of schedule to play. They did great today when they came on. I didn’t want to be using them but needs must at this time of the season. We’re very grateful and we will look to see what we can do for Saturday.”

Hunt on Meite and Hoilett

“They’re back on the grass next week, whether next week will come too soon for them I’m not too sure. We’ll monitor and I know with the characters they are they will put their best foot forward and try to play.”

Hunt on Mamadi Camara

“It was a tough one for him. They’re a good side with a back three. We needed someone with legs which would give Lucas a chance to get on the ball. He did in the first half and a few great opportunities came through it. He worked hard and it’s a great learning curve for him. If they’re to have careers in the Football League, they need to deal with the pressure.”

Hunt on the players’ characters

“They’ll pick themselves up. You see the characters we have in that dressing room, from Joe through to Scott Dann - who didn’t feature. AC and everyone in between, Shane, we have unbelievable characters in the dressing room, and they make my job very easy. We have to stick together and put a plan in place to execute it next week.”

Hunt on the fans

“They’re huge, always have been. We’re really appreciative of them today, they turned out in their numbers and we could hear them all the way through. They’ve been great all season and stuck with the team.”