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Reading will keep pounding away in Championship play-off bid – Veljko Paunovic

Barnsley v Reading – Sky Bet Championship – Oakwell
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic vowed that his side would keep “pounding away” at the Championship play-off places despite the setback of a 1-1 draw at home to Cardiff.

After a poor and goalless first half, seventh-placed Reading dominated the second period only to squander a series of chances.

Cardiff broke the deadlock three minutes from time when Kieffer Moore slammed home a penalty for his 17th league goal of the season.

But Reading levelled in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Yakou Meite nodded in a Sam Baldock cross.

“Of course, no one is happy with just a point today,” Paunovic said. “But it’s still one point and we will see how the other results go this weekend.

“We will keep pounding away. No one is going to give up here.

“From that sideline, what I see is a great team that plays good football and never gives up.

“Everyone was on the same page from the first minute to the end and that really gets me going.

“When Cardiff’s goal came late, we showed a really good reaction.

“We bounced back quickly and, once again, we showed that we never give up.

“I believe that we controlled the whole game. We created a lot of opportunities.

“Maybe not so much in the first half but we were very close to taking the lead in the second half.

“Then we had an unfortunate action on a penalty kick that changed the game.

“But you don’t have time for nerves, you just have to find solutions. You have to look to your team to immediately react and get composed again – and that’s what we did.

“We had some good players coming off the bench and then, fortunately, everything then changed in our favour – even if it was too late to score a second goal.”

Reading could be without 22-goal leading scorer Lucas Joao for their remaining four matches after the striker dislocated a shoulder – for the second time this season – and was taken to hospital.

“This happened to Lucas for the second time,” Paunovic said. “We had the same situation with him in the reverse fixture with Cardiff (in September).

“The last time, he was back after one week. We hope that, in the best-case scenario, it will be the same this time.”

Cardiff’s play-off hopes have as good as gone after a run of only one win in eight matches.

“I’m raging, that’s how I’m feeling,” Cardiff manager Mick McCarthy said. “We should not have let Reading off the hook.

“We’d been terrific, we blocked stuff, we caught them on the break.

“I suppose that I can’t criticise the lads too much. For that 94 minutes, they were terrific.

“Then we let the cross come in and we’re not marking.

“I’m disappointed for the lads because they’re raging as well.

“Prior to the international break, we saw games out – and we now have to get back to that.

“When you’re winning it’s OK but when you start losing points, you tend to analyse it more. You can’t stop thinking about it.

“You wake up in the middle of the night, you can’t get back to sleep.

“When I analyse it, I feel we have lost. And the players feel the same. I’m glad that they do.

“You drop your guard against good teams and you get punished.”