"It was always going to be a difficult game – and the fact that we went down to ten men made that task even more difficult."
Paul Clement gave a frank assessment of the Royals' 3-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Tuesday night, with the manager reflecting on a red card on the half hour mark which saw us 'shoot ourselves in the foot' a little at Villa Park.
Dave Edwards, having never been dismissed in his career before this evening, was given a second yellow after a tackle in midfield on Birkir Bjarnason after 30 minutues.
And despite some solid defensive work restricting the hosts to a few long range opportunities in the first half, Villa took the lead through Iceland international Bjarnason just 65 seconds after the restart, before goals from Scott Hogan and Conor Hourihane sealed the result on the night.
The Royals' boss was keen to take some positives from the performance, though, as we look ahead to facing Preston on Saturday.
"It’s unusual," Clement said. "In my previous two clubs, I’ve never had a situation where I’ve been down to ten men and here I’ve had it in two consecutive games.
"But there were some good things defensively that went on in the first half – possibly we gave too much initiative to Aston Villa and they really got on the front foot and we had to defend our box a lot. But I still felt calm on the side as we were doing some good things.
"Even when we went to ten men, everyone stepped up and everyone was doing two or three jobs. We got to half-time at 0-0.
"In the first five or ten minutes after half-time, it’s really important to keep things nice and tight – so conceding the goal on 46 minutes was a big mental blow for the team. It was difficult to get back into it then.
"It was a difficult situation for us. We have to make sure that we don’t forget to attack. In the first half we did a lot of good things defensively, but we have to remember that we’re good players who can create opportunities and put the opposition under threat.
"It’s also very important that we move on very quickly. There’s another game in a couple of days at home against Preston – and it’s a big game that we really have to try and win."