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"Back to back wins now has to be our aim"

Royals boss Mark Bowen reflected on a professional performance against ten men this afternoon's 3-0 win over the Rams...

21 December 2019

Scott Malone's shove in the back of Yakou Meite handed the hosts an advantage which Charlie Adam grasped with an early converted penalty. And after a slightly nervy first half display, the Royals put in an assured second half performance to see off the threat of Phillip Cocu's men at the Madejski.

"They went down to ten men early on, but that was forced by our quick play, us starting the game on the front foot which I was happy about," Royals boss Mark Bowen began in his reflections on today's 3-0 victory.

"I wanted a fast start and that sort of passage of play led to the penalty and the sending off. But once that goal went in, my first thought was 'we'd better not lose this game now - we've gone a goal up and they're down to ten men'. And I think the players thought that too.

"The fans probably think well that's it, we're going to go on and win comfortably now, we'll dominate this game.

"But as we all know, it can be difficult playing against ten men and I think we got a little bit nervous after the opening goal and we looked a bit nervous for most of the first half; they had far too many chances coming up to half-time and althought we were ahead, we were in a bit of a rut.

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"But we ironed a few things out at half time - I asked for patient but quick play. By that I mean don't force it, but when you're moving the ball, move it quickly. If you do that against ten men, spaces will open up and chances will come.

"We also talked about the back four getting tighter to their men and we passed the ball well after the break and created a good number of chances in the second half.

"We looked a lot more assured and in control of our destiny after half-time. What we talked about at half-time, the players took into their second half performance and I felt more comfortable stood on the sidelines."

After last weekend's goalless draw at Stoke, the Royals secured back-to-back clean sheets for the first time since February and Bowen was pleased with that as well as a haul of four points from the last two games.

"Once the second goal goes in, you think that should be that. And you naturally you look at keeping a clean sheet - and we have two in a row now which I'm delighted with.

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"It's nice to be climbing the table. When I came in, I said that I didn't want to waste any games without putting points on the board. Last week a lot was said about it being disappointing - but we picked up two points at Barnsley and Stoke. 

"With a point you generally stay where you are in the table. It's when you win games that you get yourself up the league.

"And we've got to keep pushing up this table. We've got a game in hand as well. But if you take your off the ball, you can quickly get dragged back down there.

"I know the quality we've got in the dressing room and I know if we get things right - work rate, togetherness, nastiness off the ball - we can get a result against anyone.

"So this is a good start to the Christmas week, but it's only a start.

"We can enjoy our Christmas but not too much. I don't want too many Quality Street or mince pies eaten because we've got a big game here on Boxing Day against QPR. Back to back wins has to be our aim."

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