Thursday, 24 September 2020

Stoppage time equaliser denies Reading winning return

READING boss Mark Bowen criticised his players for switching off as their opponents Stoke City made it 1-1 in stoppage time on the club’s return to action on Saturday.

Lucas Joao had given the Royals the lead inside the opening 10 minutes at the Madejski Stadium but Nick Powell rescued a point with a header from close range in the 92nd minute.

Bowen was disappointed that he side couldn’t grab a second goal and bemoaned his side’s bad luck at having two “definite” penalties turned down by the referee. He said: “We thought we had done enough and I thought we had played well throughout the game. We were in control for long periods and had ample opportunity to go and get the second goal.

“Swift hit the crossbar and I thought that was in. We had two definite penalties turned down so with all those things we thought we could at least see the game out. We were a bit sloppy in giving them the corner for the equaliser.

“We talk about getting first contact [on the ball] and sometimes you can’t do that but you have to be switched on for the second ball and we weren’t. That’s the really frustrating thing.

“Having worked so hard to get the three points, it was that concentration with three minutes to go — I’m expecting my players to grab each other by the scruff of the neck and say to each other ‘come on, we need to see this game out’.”

The game, played behind closed doors, was the first for both clubs since the Championship returned following a three-month suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The point sees the Royals stay 14th in the league, eight points off the play-off places, while Stoke move two points clear of the relegation places and stay 18th. Reading face Derby tomorrow (Saturday), kick-off 1pm. The Rams are in 12th and are on a three-game winning streak.

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