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Reading boss Veljko Paunovic ignores ‘distraction’ of possible points deduction

Veljko Paunovic file photo
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic vowed to ignore matters out of his control with the Sky Bet Championship club potentially facing a nine-point deduction for breaching EFL financial guidelines.

Paunovic spoke after Alen Halilovic’s first goal for Reading, in the 55th minute, secured a hard-earned 1-0 home victory over Middlesbrough – their third successive win.

Boro rallied late on but their hopes of forcing an equaliser were hampered when striker Matt Crooks was sent off for a lunge at home goalkeeper Luke Southwood.

Of the potential nine-point deduction, Paunovic said: “I don’t want distractions. We are only focused on the things that we can control and that is our performance.

“I don’t want to talk about this. It is out of my control. I don’t control it.”

Of the victory over Boro, Paunovic said: “Considering our circumstances with all the injuries, we always looked to put out a team that could compete and win.

“There’s always an idea behind what we’re trying to do and we were more than satisfied with the players showing such great spirit.

“We keep rolling, we keep going, but with our feet on the ground. But the confidence is now restored and the belief is also there.

“We are where we are and it’s a huge credit to the team. We had a lot of new players against Boro, players who had not played together before in this line-up.

“We didn’t start the game badly but we didn’t show the initial confidence that I would have liked.

“We created quite a few very good team chances and I regret that we didn’t convert them. That would have been great.

“We executed the game plan very well in the first half and even better in the second half.

“It was hard to defend all those Boro set-pieces towards the end but we improved on that and today we got our first clean sheet this season.”

Middlesbrough have won only once in seven matches and manager Neil Warnock confirmed that the club would appeal against Crooks’ dismissal.

“The referee [Peter Bankes] was in a terrible position,” Warnock said. “He said that he saw the tackle and then had advice from his linesman who was 45 yards away. A young linesman who looked about 18.

“The linesman said he saw Crooks go in for the ball with his studs high and endangering him [Southwood] so he immediately said red card to the referee.

“Peter didn’t have a very good second half and he was in a terrible position and he’s listened to a young pup with a flag in his hand.

“It’s terrible really. I’ve been in the game 42 years and this group of Championship referees at the minute is probably the worst I have ever come across.

“Honestly, if Matt hadn’t have gone in for that challenge, I’d have probably fined him.”

On the 1-0 defeat, Warnock said: “I can’t fault the effort that my players put in but I don’t think that we created enough chances.

“It all came down to that bit of luck again, a mishit shot [from Halilovic] that just bounces on the floor and goes in.

“Then Crooks gets on the end of a cross and it just hits the goalkeeper [Southwood] in the face. He didn’t know anything about it.

“It’s just one those things, we just have to keep going.”