Veljkp Paunovic wants his side to go ‘back to basics’ after they were sunk by Preston to suffer their first home defeat of the season.
The Royals went in to the game with a chance to re-take a six point lead at the top of the Championship and still have a three point gap between them and second place Swansea City despite tasting defeat.
Rafael saved a penalty early in the second half from Daniel Johnson but they were well beaten after second half goals from Scott Sinclair, Emil Riis Jakobsen and Tom Barkhuizen.
“Today we weren’t at our best in both sides of the game. We have to congratulate our opponents,” said Paunovic.
“The first half was back and forth. We had a sloppy start to the second and conceded a penalty. We then had a reaction and created two chances to score, but if you don’t score, it can go against you.
“We were then very anxious and you can’t do that against a team that is well organised. Our defensive awareness weren’t ready for the counter attacks that defined the game.
“I feel pain when you lose a game and you have to absorb it but you have to bounce back.
“We look to go back to basics. Be strong in defence and clinical in attack.
“You have to convert that pain to positive energy for the next game.”
Paunovic’s side had boasted a sturdy defensive record early in the season but have now conceded six goals in their last two matches, and the Serbian boss wants his team to improve defensively.
“We have to improve our defensive awareness,” he continued.
“When we have the ball in their half, we have to be ready incase we lose the ball to be close to our opponent to make sure they don’t counter and that went against us today.
“Everyone understands what we have to improve and we’re ready for the next game. We have to absorb it and be ready.”
Paunovic provided an injury update after Liam Moore, Ovie Ejaria and Yakou Meite all missed out tonight through injury.
“We were missing Yakou, Liam and Ejaria today through injury. The good news is that Baldock and Yiadom are back. In different moments they will come back and they are important resources for the team.
“Ovie is the closest to return and Yakou and Liam we will evaluate day by day whether they will be ready for Saturday. We expect Ovie to be ready for Saturday.
“We have had opportunities of people offering players (free agents) that could be available but we are cautious with these decisions. We will re-evaluate those options.”