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Veljko Paunovic warns Championship leaders Reading of ‘marathon’ task

Middlesbrough v Reading – Sky Bet Championship – Riverside Stadium
(Image credit: Richard Sellers)

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic warned his players that they had barely started their “marathon” after they moved to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a 1-0 win over Wycombe.

Wycombe, now without a point in their opening six league matches, dominated the first half but without creating many clear chances.

Reading improved after the break and were rewarded in the 64th minute when Lucas Joao finished fiercely for his sixth goal of the season in all competitions.

“We will have to keep working hard because it is not going to be easy,” Serb Paunovic said. “This is a marathon.

“We know that people’s expectations are changing and they are already looking at the standings, which is fine.

“But I will always warn people – especially those who I am working with – to always keep their feet on the ground.

“This is very important. We have to stay humble and put in the work every day.

“We learnt a lot from this game – about ourselves and how to win games like this, how to win ugly.

“It was hard for us because of how Wycombe played, especially in the first half. They surprised us, to be honest, they did a very good job.

“The first half was theirs. But we adjusted and reacted in the second half. We adjusted our intensity and our mentality.

“Whatever Wycombe brought on the field, we matched it and got on top of them.

“I’ve heard it in Serbia and also in Spain, sometimes you have to win ugly – this was the day.”

Wycombe have lost six-successive games since they were promoted last season for their first-ever campaign in the second tier.

“It hurts so much to lose,” Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth said. “A neutral would have said that these two teams were very evenly matched.

“That gives me hope and great pride on being in the Championship and mixing it with the big boys.

“Reading are top of the league and I think that we’ve taken them all the way tonight.

“A goal at the end for us wouldn’t have been begrudged to Wycombe by anyone. We probably deserved something out of the game.

“But it’s the key moments in the Championship that count.

“In Leagues One and Two, you’ll probably get away with graft and spirit and togetherness.

“But in those key moments, you’ve got to have that quality. We let Reading score far too easily from a long ball.

“The boys are gutted in the dressing room. We’ve been beaten six on the spin, that’s a first for me.

“We’re all down, of course we are, but I’m so convinced that we have got a group to stay in the Championship.”