Reading manager Mark Bowen has described his side’s defeat to Sheffield United as ‘really galling’ – but they can be ‘full of pride’ after their exit from the FA Cup on Tuesday evening.
A game that had every ingredient of a traditional FA Cup encounter – Billy Sharp’s extra-time winner proved to be the difference at the Madjeski Stadium, as Chris Wilder’s side booked their place in the quarter-finals for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
After their comfortable 2-0 victory against relegation-threatened Barnsley on Saturday, Bowen named an unchanged line-up as his team more than matched their Premier League opponents following George Puscas’s equaliser from the penalty spot – but eventually fell short of quality.
Speaking to the club’s official website following his side’s spirited performance, Bowen stated the fans can go away with ‘a sense of pride’ following a valiant display in front of the home faithful.
“I wanted our fans to go away tonight with a smile on their face because we had won the game and we were in a quarter-final. They may not have a smile on their face, because we were beaten. But I hope they can go away feeling pride in their team,” he said.
“It’s difficult to finish the game with nothing to show for all that effort. That’s really galling.
“I thought we looked like we might win it in extra-time or at least take it to penalties, but football has a habit of coming back and kicking you in the backside if you get too far ahead of yourself. And that’s what it did tonight.
“We’ll take massive positives out of the game. What we’ve got to do now is make sure that all the memories of the game here against Wigan have gone, he said.
“We will take the positives from tonight into the remaining games of the season and get as many points as we can.”
The Royals follow up their defeat with a visit to Birmingham City on Saturday – with their opposition just one point ahead of them in 15th place. A victory for Bowen’s side could see them rise as high as 12th in the table – providing other results go their way.