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Bowen on back-to-back wins, three successive clean sheets and individual brilliance!

Royals boss reflects on a deserved home win in the Battle of the Hoops...

26 December 2019

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The form guide since Royals boss Mark Bowen took charge has us fourth in the Championship table. And we recorded our third successive clean sheet in the league this evening - a feat which hasn't been achieved by the Royals since November 2016. But the Royals boss is only interested in back-to-back victories which see us make a move up the league ladder...

"I might be biased, but I thought we deserved it; I thought we had some really good passages of play," Bowen began after catching his breath following a frantic end to the 1-0 win.

"In spells I thought they came into the game and really caused us problems. And it was a little bit too end to end for my liking, I wanted us to have more control. If my hair was falling out before tonight, I don’t know what I’ve got left now.

"But my players were brave in possession, especially in the opening half an hour. Lucas Joao might be a target man who needs bodies around him but he didn’t half put a shift of work in tonight – if you haven't got someone up there who can retain the ball then it keeps coming back, but he worked really hard and helped link the play up really well.

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"Chris Gunter has come into the team and done really well. Charlie Adam’s range of passing is as good as there is. He is no spring chicken now but he’s worked hard at his game and the more he is playing the more he is getting his match fitness and that’s really telling in his game.

"And Rafael - the save he pulled off at the end was really special. I was about to tear a strip off him because he took a kick early to Lucas Joao and gave the ball straight back to them when we were trying to kill the game. And then just as I’m filling my lungs to have a go at him, he pulls off a couple of magnificent saves.

"And it’s another clean sheet; we’ve done a lot of work with the defensive back four, they know their jobs well, and we got the win. That’s back-to-back wins which take you up the table.

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"This bunch of lads, they’re hungry for work – they want to learn. And there is a really good team spirit in the dressing room as well which carries you through periods in games when you’re under pressure.

"I always felt if we could get a clean sheet tonight, we would nick a goal to win it. But I didn’t think we’d nick it with a goal like that. It was a tremendous strike. No back lift and he’s just hit it with the outside of his boot – what a goal! But John Swift is a talented player so you expect that from him.

"I'd like to thank the fans who came out tonight - what this place would be like when it's full I don't know - because those who were here tonight really made some noise for us.

"All in all, it’s been a good start to the Christmas period, but we’ve got some difficult games coming up." Preston away next.

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