Reading boss Mark Bowen proud of three points against Preston North End

Mark Bowen was proud of his players after their win but also tipped PNE to be up there towards the end of the season.
Mark Bowen was proud of his players after their win but also tipped PNE to be up there towards the end of the season.

Reading boss Mark Bowen was proud of his sides performance and win against Preston North End in the final game of the year for both teams.

Reading took the lead after 12 minutes through John Swift, rounding off a well worked move in what was the visitors' first attack of the game.

Just four minutes later, Lucas Joao doubled the Royals lead finding space to collect Tyler Blackett's pass and fire past Declan Rudd.

With his players having picked up knocks and bruises in recent games, Bowen was apprehensive ahead of the trip to Lancashire.

Overcoming the injury worries he had only made him prouder that his side came out on top.

"I'm really proud of our guys," he explained.

"You worry – you come to a place like this with the energy this team have got and the record they’ve got, I was worried but I woke up this morning and luckily my players had recovered well and I know I’ve got good players in the team and mentally they’re in a good place as well.

"The message the staff and I were giving to them this morning was we’d had three clean sheets and two wins, don’t pat yourself on the back and come here and think it’s been a good Christmas – the mentality’s got to be right.

"We’ve got to come here and get something to get out of the game and continue doing that and they’ve done that.

"It was a professional performance and I’m really delighted for the players.

"I thought the manner of it, coming to a really difficult place with the best defensive record in this league( at home).

"I thought the goals we scored were through really crisp, slick passing.

"We went in at half time and said 'where do we go from here?'

"We had a game plan of going out in the second half and letting them have a lot of possession and making sure we were compact.

"I thought we were really disciplined, at times there was some defending where we were throwing our bodies in the way of shots and the keepers made one or two really, really good point blank saves.

"In hindsight it’s a really professional away from home performance."

Bowen knew the threat the home side possessed, with PNE having only lost once at Deepdale this season, in controversial fashion.

The Welshman also tipped North End to be right in the mix come the end of the season.

"They’re a side that can hurt anybody with the quality they’ve got, with the energy they’ve got," he said.

"I sat and watched their game against Leeds the other day and thought they were unlucky not to come away with a win.

"They’ll be right there in January, February, March, they’ll be right near that top six, pushing for a promotion place and a play-off place.

"We’ve got to make sure we’re as close to them as can be.