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Noel Hunt Has ‘Mixed Emotions’ After Reading Come Up Short Against Wigan

The interim boss was proud of his players’ performance against the Latics, but frustrated by an inability to get the win.

Reading v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by David Horton - CameraSport via Getty Images

What was a must-win game at the Select Car Leasing on Saturday led to Reading getting just one point, with Yakou Meite scoring a late equaliser. Wigan Athletic were the visitors and they went ahead in the 81st minute to put Reading in real trouble, but Meite scored in extra time to secure a point and send Wigan down to League One.

It was a must-win game and now, Huddersfield Town’s two matches in hand are so important ahead of our fixture with them a week on Monday.

Here is what interim manager Noel Hunt had to say; he spoke to the official club website and the Reading Chronicle.

Hunt on the result

“Mixed emotions. I’m gutted with the result, because I think we deserved so much more. I’m extremely proud of the boys, how we stepped onto the pitch today and showed what they can do.

“We controlled the game and created numerous opportunities and chances… the movement and the bravery, I felt we were really good. I’m just disappointed in the result.

“We controlled the first half, and after 15 minutes I was saying ‘we need to score now to get the place rocking’. It didn’t come and their goalkeeper made a great save.

“I wanted us to start the second half fast because I knew they’d get a rocket. They started well and we had to feel our way back into the game, but then we took control again. It was all us.

“At half-time I said to them, the only way I could see us conceding was on the counter or from a set play. So let’s not let that happen. But unfortunately we did concede from a set play which is disappointing.

“But then the character from the boys, the belief… and the crowd had a lot to do with that, to keep us going.

“And we get a goal back through Yak. Yakou Meite – he was told that his season was done, that he was over a month away from being back! I’m a massive fan of Yakou. I love him. Yakou’s goal record and assist record stands for itself – one of the best we’ve had. He’s a fantastic kid that loves playing football.

“I’m putting boys on the pitch like Yak, like Shane Long, Tom McIntyre, Junior Hoilett who are all coming back four, five, six weeks early – just to play their part.

“I came in a little over two weeks ago and these boys have been nothing short of amazing. Their approach, their attitude, their willingness to learn and get better. That’s the hunger in the group.

“So I’m extremely proud of these boys and how they played today and the bravery they showed. That’s a Reading performance. We’re gutted that it is without the result, but it was a Reading performance.

“And a lot of that is thanks to the fans. It was breathtaking here. When you see every seat in the stands full and the place rocking, that shows how good this football club is and how special it is. The fans have been nothing but amazing with me and I’m just gutted we didn’t get the result they deserved today.”

Hunt on the state of play in the relegation fight

“We’re relying on results now. Obviously, we will keep a close eye but what they gave on the pitch today is what should be the minimum requirement for this football club.

“Other than putting the ball in the back of the net there’s not a lot else we could have done in terms of how we controlled the game and created chances. For me, we’ve got to wait in hope and hopefully we have something to play for next Monday.”

Hunt on players returning for the starting XI

“Look at the starting line-up, we were contemplating teams through the week, and it was about getting our best players and most experienced players on the pitch. These boys like Junior [Hoilett], Shane [Long], Tom McIntyre, Yakou [Meite] - coming back five, six or seven weeks early to get on the football pitch and play for this club and for me.

“It shows the characteristics of the boys and how good professionals, and people, they are. You don’t see that often; these boys were out for the season and from the minute I stepped in we had a conversation, and they all came back with the same answer.

“For me, we put out a team to dominate the game. Shane hasn’t played for five or six weeks, neither has Junior, all coming back from serious injuries to play football for this club and this team. From that, I can’t be any prouder.”

Hunt on Huddersfield/Rotherham results

“We will keep an eye on the game tomorrow, enjoy spending time with your family tonight and tomorrow and then Monday we get ready for Monday week. That’s been the message to the boys.”