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💬 "I hope our fans go away with a sense of pride in their players"

Royals boss Mark Bowen admits that cup defeat is 'tough to take' after an excellent performance against Premier League opposition this evening...

3 March 2020

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Let's crunch some numbers. Ahead of tonight's tie, Sheffield United lay just five points shy of a top four spot in the Premier League, with a game in hand to their name. The Blades have played nine games so far in 2020, compared to sixteen played by the Royals this year and Chris Wilder's side had enjoyed a ten day break since their last fixture!

And yet it was Mark Bowen's valiant side who arguably looked like the favourites to win tonight's cup tie in extra time and perhaps deserved more than the defeat that was dealt them.

"I wanted our fans to go away tonight with a smile on their face because we had won the game and we were in a quarter-final. They may not have a smile on their face, because we were beaten. But I hope that they can go away feeling pride in their team.

"There were times when we had to get the shape right and soak up pressure, let them have the ball a little bit – that was part of our game-plan. But there were long periods of the game where we took it to them and played some really good stuff.

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"Every man, every individual. It’s difficult to finish the game with nothing to show for all that effort. That’s really galling.

"I thought we looked like we might win it in extra-time or at least take the tie to penalties, but football has a habit of coming back and kicking you in the backside if you get too far ahead of yourself. And that's what it did tonight. 

"We talk a lot and work a lot at defending crosses and since I’ve been here we’ve done really well at that, so to concede two goals like that – both of which could have been stopped at different times - is disappoitning. But it happens; we got caught a bit cold at the start and we’re usually better than that.

"But after that early disappointment, some people might have thought that a team like Sheffield United who have done so well this season might go and run all over us. Well, they didn’t… far from it. And that's what makes the result so hard to take.

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"We’ll take massive positives out of the game. What we’ve got to do now is make sure that all the memories of the game here against Wigan have gone, take those positives from tonight into the remaining games of the season and get as many points as we can.

"We’ve had a lot of games in this competition. And our fans have deserved it. Every fan likes to see a cup run for their team. But we have to wipe ourselves down and move on. Now the game on Saturday is just as important as the one was tonight.

"We will lick our wounds tonight, but at the same time we can have a sense of pride that we have put in a good showing. And now I want to get our club into a place where we’re not just talking about a good showing, but with results behind it too.

"That’s the ultimate aim and we’re all working towards that."


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