Three points should have been in the bag in our first game back. But as he sat down in front of a screen to conduct his post-match press conference, virtually, the Royals boss was still seething as some of the decisions that cost his side victory...
"It was very frustrating," Bowen began his virtual post-match press conference. "I thought we played well for long periods of the game.
"We were a bit rusty in our decision-making at times when we were in good positions. But you get to the stage where it’s a case of seeing the game out andyou hope we do.
"You’re playing a game against a team like Stoke, with the big centre half Batth and Vokes up front, maybe you’re not going to get the first contact when the ball comes into the box, but even more important therefore that the players organise themselves to get the second contact and clear the danger.
"And one or two of the players stood by and just expected Morrison or Moore to head the ball clear. And that lack of concentration at that time cost us. It’s really frustrating."
In an empty stadium, the Royals boss' frustrations could be both seen and heard! "We had some crowd noise piped in the stadium which hopefully would have drowned out some of the expletives that came from me during the last part of the game," he smiled.
"I think the referee raised my blood pressure a few times. We had two stonewall penalties which weren’t given – he’s closer than most people in the stadium.
"John Swift was coming onto a shot on the edge of his box, his ankles were taken from him, nothing was given and they broke and nearly scored at the other end! I was smiling it was so comical.
"I'm not going to use it as an excuse for us switching off at the end, but the game should have been way beyond Stoke by the time they scored.
"It’s more frustrating because I look at the teams above us and there were a few drawn games and few lost and we would have put ourselves in a good position to make a jump into that top ten.
"I’ll never give up on a push for the playoffs until it’s mathematically impossible. There is no such thing as seeing out the season for me – we’re looking above us and trying to win games to push us up there."