The Wokingham Paper

REACTION: Paul Clement on a dramatic draw, injury to Baldock and why Reading have turned a corner

Paul Clement
Paul Clement

Paul Clement says Reading have “turned a corner” after a thrilling 2-2 draw at Brentford.

The Royals trailed early on through a Neal Maupay goal, but battled back to lead through Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and John Swift strikes.

However, Brentford, who were reduced to 10 men when Said Benrahma was sent off on 86 minutes, battled back to equalise in stoppage time through a Yoann Barbet header.

RATINGS: Ezatolahi and Bodvarsson star at Griffin Park

Here is what he said to the media after the game –

Bodvarsson scored again

On the draw…

It was a great game, loads of passion, edge of the seat stuff. When you’re leading 2-1 and the 90 is up, there was a long amount of added time today because of what happened with some of the injuries but particularly that free-kick that took so long to restart. We’re disappointed to have not taken all three points because they had 10 on the field as well but very proud of the effort the players put in. I thought it was a performance filled with passion. I think everyone can see there’s been a mental shift in this team and that’s pleasing. Our away form is good. Maybe before the game you take a point at Brentford but a little bit like Blackburn where it was 2-0, we led again here and we’ve not managed to quite take all the points.

On the mental shift in the team…

The points tally over the last four games now is good. When you get points away from home at difficult places you’ve got to back it up at home like the performance we put in against Hull. Obviously it’ll be a difficult game but I think we have turned a corner, but you’ve got to keep it going because it can soon go back the other direction, a little bit like after our performance against Preston, we took a backwards step. We’ve got to make sure we keep taking forward steps.

On Barrow, Meite and Swift coming off…

I’m hoping that they’re not injury issues. I think that was just from the sheer amount of physical effort that was put in. We’re going to have to find out if that was fatigue or whether that was injuries. We don’t know at this point.

On the away fans…

I thought the fans here today were unbelievable for us. Absolutely fantastic, packed that end, maybe 1,600 people, big smiles on their faces, proud of their team and we’re obviously a bit disappointed we didn’t get all three points for them but wow, they were a massive help.

On the performance of Ezatolahi…

Really top player. It was a top team performance but his part in the team was very good. I think we’ve signed a really good player. He’s going to get better and better as well as he gets up to speed with his own fitness and also the different culture of playing in this country.

On the week ahead…

They’re all big weeks aren’t they? We’ve started it off not bad, QPR now and a very difficult trip to West Brom at the end of the week. But we have no fear who we’re playing at the moment and the mood we’re in so looking forward to that game and also at the end of the week going to the Hawthorns.

John Swift’s free-kick caused chaos

On Swift impressing after a spell out of the team…

Of course. Kelly and Swift are both good players and there’s a lot of competition for who plays out of those two. Maybe sometimes they’ll both play together so that was good.

On Mannone’s injury…

He really pushed to try and be ready for today. Whether I would’ve started him or not is another matter so he really pushed and he’s going to available for selection in the next games so I’m going to have to think about what I’m going to do.

On the 10 minutes of added time…

It was nine and then something else happened so they decided to put 10 on. It’s one of the most I’ve been involved in but that free-kick took an age. I don’t know why it took so long to get that one going but that was the reason I think, because that was so long.

On the performance of the referee…

I said to him at the end it was a difficult game and you need some rest tonight after he said yeah I do need a bit. It was a difficult one because there was a lot of passion from both teams and also a good atmosphere in the stadium as well. That pumped things up even more. But I’d rather be involved in those kind of games than ones which are flat. I enjoyed that today a lot.

On responding the the late equaliser…

I thought we could go again at that point. Of course when you concede that late you’re disappointed, but at the same time it was a good performance from us.

On what to work on going into Tuesday’s game with QPR…

We want to build on some of the stuff we need to improve on based on today and also the performance against Hull. We’re definitely seeing an improvement in the team, I think everyone can see that. Just the sheer amount of physical effort and passion that they’re putting into the performances. We need to improve on aspects and that will be the case right until the end of the season.

On Baldock’s absence…

He had a little issue with the calf. He’s done so well after playing very limited football last season. To get up to speed and to play the amount of minutes that he’s done and play well, I think it’s just taken its toll on him a little bit. We’ll get him ready as soon as possible, whether that’s going to be for this week or not we’re not sure, we’re just going to have to take it day by day.

On McShane and Meyler…

They rejoined training on Friday so they’ve only had one session with the team. They’re going to have to build-up their training a little bit but they’re fit again.

On not falling apart after going 1-0 down…

One of the points I made to the players at half-time was well done, that they played really well and after a difficult start they kept going and got back into the game. We were very much in the game for the entirety. There wasn’t a period where it was absolute backs to the wall and we were hanging on. We got our goals at good times and we were really close to getting all three points here.

On if they could’ve closed the game down better at 2-1 against 10 men…

I think we were pretty tired at that point. When they went down to 10 it actually looked like they had the 11 and we had the 10. There was also that mentality of what do we do here, do we go or not go. Obviously it was a set play and that can happen when they’ve got 10. I thought we should’ve done a little bit better in the build-up to that, it came from the right hand side and we didn’t do well enough to stop the ball coming in and then a set play, it doesn’t matter really if you’ve got 11 or 10 because there’s always going to be one or two out. It’s normally the same amount of players in the box.

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