Paul Clement praised his side’s fighting spirit as they rescued a point against Stoke with a dramatic late equaliser.
The Potters looked to have done enough for victory, cancelling out Marc McNulty’s header to lead through Benik Afobe and Tom Ince strikes.
But Reading rallied and snatched a 2-2 draw in the fourth minute of stoppage time thanks to Mo Barrow’s fine finish.
Here is every word from the Royals boss after the game.
On the draw…
I think it’s a good point in the end. Right at the end of the game to score that late, I thought it had maybe got away from us but I’m glad the players didn’t think that. That’s the most important thing, that they don’t. We pushed strongly at the end, I got as many attacking players on as I could, we put a couple of really good low crosses in that flashed past Butland and we just didn’t have someone in there to finish it off. Butland made a really good save from Meite in the dying moments but the players kept going right to the end. When you score that late it feels like more than you’ve drawn the game, when you get an equaliser 94 minutes.
On playing right until the end again on Tuesday as well…
And against two of the better sides in the league for sure, two sides that have been tipped to do good things this year, both looking to be promoted so we’ve certainly competed against both of those sides. I’m pleased with lots of aspects of our play, I thought at the start of the game we looked good. We deservedly went ahead, faded away a little bit, started the second half poorly.
Please don’t even ask me a question about why statistically we concede goals (just after half-time). What do you think I’m doing, telling them to come out and play crap? Of course I’m not. Why it’s happening, I don’t know. It’s certainly not something I’m saying to them.
Stoke clearly upped their game in the second half, they played quicker, they played with more energy, they played more intelligently and we found it difficult then. We stuck at it and kept going.
On if the formation worked…
I think in the first 15 minutes of the game it worked well. They found it very difficult to contain McCleary and Loader and we were getting the balls into them and if we couldn’t get the balls into them we were going wide to Yiadom and we were getting the ball up the pitch really well. Maybe we didn’t have any real final product but I thought the shape worked well initially and then Stoke got back into the game. We had a little bit more difficulty defensively and you can do with that shape because you give up space in the wide areas so we needed to do better there.
On the absentees…
One was a big surprise. This morning I got a message and got a message that Liam Kelly had been ill overnight so that was why he wasn’t here.
Liam Moore picked up his problem during the Leeds game but was so determined to continue and played maybe the whole second half with a sore calf. He tried to make himself available for today, he trained at the start of yesterday’s session but it was just too sore.
John O’Shea is a bit of a bizarre one. Because of his age and the amber warning flag that he could get injured quickly in another high intensity game, we decided to put him on the bench in midweek. Somehow during either the warm-up or the period when he was on the bench or when he went out at half-time he aggravated his hamstring. We’ve gone from four central defenders to one very quickly.
I thought Tyler Blackett did a good job coming in there. We had young Tom McIntyre on the bench. Whether we’ve got players out or not we’ve still got players that can come in and do a job.
On if the injuries to O’Shea and Moore are serious…
It’s a little bit early to say. I’m hoping it’ll be a quick turnaround but we’ll see.
On McNulty scoring his first Reading goal…
Yak (Meite) has been struggling in the last couple of games because of the ankle issue that he picked up against Bristol City. He’s been struggling with it since then, even in the Ipswich game when he scored two he still had some swelling and it was a bit uncomfortable. The travel away with Ivory Coast didn’t help, training on hard pitches and the altitude didn’t help the swelling. He got back out there for the next two games but wasn’t feeling quite right and it hasn’t settled down. He would’ve gone out and played had I picked him but I thought after the performances in the last two games where it’s clearly impairing him, I’ll give Marc an opportunity. He hasn’t had many but he played alright I thought against West Brom. I’m really pleased he got his goal. All the players were pleased, he was pleased, it’s his first goal for the club. Missing the penalty in midweek he was really disappointed, but that was a great response. He got his start and scored, it’s good.
On Jaakkola’s performance…
He’s been a good shot stopper in recent times. He’s a big presence in the goal. He’s improving in his decision making. Still today I think some of the things he did with his distribution need to be a little bit better but with more consistent, regular games, with two other keepers that we’ve got who are also of a good level pushing each other every day, I’m sure he’s just going to keep improving.
On the dip in performance after going 1-0 up…
I think maybe we got a little bit casual. Stoke did give us some time and space to build at the back and I thought in the early part of the game we used the ball really well. One of the points I said at half-time is don’t start getting casual about your decision-making, trying to squeeze the ball through spaces that aren’t there. They’re trying to get it into McCleary and Loader but sometimes the opposition start to stop that, they come narrow and then it’s about choices. Play it wide, don’t take too long on the ball, still move it quickly. I accept that we didn’t finish the half as strong as at the start and we didn’t start the second half as strong as we started the first half, but we did finish the game strongly.
Over the last two games you can’t say that the players are downing tools or are completely shot of confidence. They’re still trying to play, they’re still working hard, they’re still doing their best. That’s a good sign, especially for me.
On only winning four out 20 games this season…
The concern is the position in the league. We’re still not clear of it. My view will always be if you start to string together performances the results will follow. You can’t say in the last two games that we’ve played poorly. We’ve picked up one point out of a possible six but we haven’t played poorly. If you continue to play well then the results will follow. I’m convinced of that. That will be the objective, to keep doing that.
I don’t go home every night and say we’ve won four out of 20. I don’t speak to the players and say we’ve won four out of 20, I don’t speak to Gianluca (Nani) and say we’ve won four out of 20. I never even mention it. We work on trying to improve on what’s under our control and hopefully sooner or later you’ll be saying to me you’ve won the last five out of six. We’re still working on performances.