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Veljko Paunovic impressed as Reading rediscover the winning feeling

Reading v Bristol City – Sky Bet Championship – Madejski Stadium
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic praised his players for their “complete performance” in the 3-1 Championship victory over Bristol City.

It was the first win for Reading, the early-season second-tier pacesetters, in six matches.

After a drab goalless first half, Reading went in front in the 54th minute with a deflected drive from Ovie Ejaria.

City equalised 17 minutes from the end, when substitute Nahki Wells netted following a goalmouth scramble.

But Reading rediscovered their winning habit with further goals from Yakou Meite and Lucas Joao – his 12th of the season.

“We are all very happy,” Paunovic said. “That is one of our best performances of the year.

“But in saying that, we must remind ourselves about our consistency. We needed a balanced display on the defensive side and in attack.

“And that happened today. It was a very complete performance.

“Although we conceded a goal, that sometimes happens. You have to clap your opponent because they do well.

“But we didn’t tremble. We reacted well and we were serene and ready to go. From the past, we learned what we had to do.

“This really was a great match-up game for us today against a team that had had a similar start to us.

“I was very important to get the feeling of winning again after a month without it and it feels great. It’s just fantastic.

“But, as we always say, we still we have to keep our feet on the ground. We’ll enjoy it for one day and then get back to our process of recovery.

“We have to replenish and prepare for the next games, especially for the game on Wednesday [at Sheffield Wednesday].”

Reading continued to press forward after going 2-1 ahead, declining to sit back and protect what they had.

“That is the identity and the mentality that we have built,” Paunovic said.

“I know that we didn’t have good results in the last month but we always fought to the end. We always gave our best in every game.

“Even when we have been 0-3 down, we have always wanted to score our goal.

“We must always show the same mentality, even when we have to face adversity. This was a must-win game for us and we were all on the same page. We knew how important it was to get the winning feeling back.

“We are now winning and, hopefully, building a new momentum.”

City tasted defeat for the first time in five matches.

“We were nowhere near our usual level,” Dean Holden, the City head coach, said.

“It’s happened twice this season – the Norwich game at home and this game.

“The players have been magnificent in the season up to now and this was just a game where we weren’t at our best.

“We were poor in possession, we gave the ball away cheaply and we offered them to come on to us too easily.

“Having said that, when we got back into it at 1-1, then the mentality has to be that if we can get another opportunity to win, brilliant.

“But if not, let’s not lose it. We became a bit too open too easily for that second goal and, ultimately, that’s where we lost the game.

“The third goal, again, was a cheap giveaway, from which Reading punished us.

“But we just have to swallow this. We have to move on quickly.”

Holden and Paunovic were involved in an exchange of words midway through the second half, for which the Serb was booked.

“The pressure was building and I love that,” Paunovic said. “It’s a passionate game and I think that I overreacted at one point.

“But I apologised [to Holden] for that.”

Holden said: “Four of their staff were trying to get Taylor Moore sent off [for a foul] and I asked for some calmness.

“Their manager told me to do something to myself, which I won’t repeat. It was unacceptable. It’s heat of the moment, it happens. I don’t hold grudges with anybody and it’s easy to apologise when you’ve won a game.”