01 April 2023

I do know what I’m doing! Paul Ince rejects backlash against subs during draw

01 April 2023

Reading boss Paul Ince was surprised by the negative reaction from travelling fans to the second-half substitutions which helped secure a battling point from a 1-1 draw at Bristol City.

With their team trailing, Royals supporters behind a goal chanted “you don’t know what you’re doing” when the manager sent on Lucas Joao and Femi Azeez as 61st-minute substitutes for Nesta Guinness-Walker and Tyrese Fornah.

The jeers to turned to cheers when Joao rose to nod in a 72nd-minute equaliser from Andy Carroll’s powerful header across goal.

That cancelled out Tommy Conway’s left-footed strike for City in first-half stoppage time and earned a valuable draw for a team who have a six-point penalty hanging over their heads.

Ince said: “If we all pull together, we are capable of achieving something special this season by staying up in very difficult circumstances.

“If we don’t, we will be relegated. I thought the team were tiring on a heavy pitch and I don’t know what the fans expected with the options I had on the bench.

“I totally understand their frustration over our current situation and the turnout to support us was fantastic.”

With a smile, Ince added: “I actually didn’t mind hearing that particular chant because it was directed at me before in a game that saw us fight back. It seemed to work for us again!

“The players are facing a tough challenge, which is not of their own making. If we do get out of trouble, it will be a great achievement.

“There wasn’t much between the teams today. We had a glorious chance to take the lead in the first half and another one on the break near the end of the game.

“We have to score in those situations. Bristol caused us some problems too, but overall I thought we contained them well.

“They got lucky with their goal because there were a couple of deflections involved in the build-up.”

Conway’s goal, his 10th of a breakthrough season, capped a confident return after a three-month lay-off with hamstring trouble.

City manager Nigel Pearson said: “It was two points dropped. We should have won the game because we played very well.

“We created chances, hit the target plenty of times, and then got done by a sucker punch from a set-piece.

“That was always likely to be their route back into the game. In general, we defended set-plays very well – except for that one.

“People have jobs to do in those situations and when they switch off that’s what can happen. But we passed the ball at a good tempo throughout and should have taken all three points.

“It was good to have Tommy Conway back and see him do what he is paid to do. He and Nahki Wells like playing together and he presses the ball really well.

“The pitch was heavy, but it has been raining for about a month, so that’s life.

“It doesn’t suit our quicker players, but you can fight against nature. We were up against a side who were physically bigger than us and met that challenge well.

“Reading are fighting for their lives and playing for their manager, but we have to learn to put sides like that to bed.”

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