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ALEX NEIL: SET PLAYS COST US

26 December 2016

Manager assesses Boxing Day defeat at Reading

CITY's Boxing Day loss at Reading simply came down to poor set-piece defending, says manager Alex Neil.

Reading's first two goals - either side of Nelson Oliveira's fourth strike in his last five matches - each came from the Canaries' failure to clear their lines from a Royals dead ball situation.

When asked to pinpoint the faults that led to City's 3-1 loss, their eighth in ten matches, Neil said: "Our inability to defend set-plays cost us the game.

"It's an individual battle between you picking up your man and you heading the ball and him not heading the ball. They didn't carry that out, it's as simple as that.

"I'll continue doing the job as well as I can. I thought the gameplan we had today was the right one. In the first half, we kept them really quiet.
 


"We got forced into a change and then Jonny Howson gets sent off. If you take those things into the equation, if we'd have any luck it'd be no luck at the moment.

"Now I'm just looking at trying to win the next game, that's my sole focus really."

Goalscorer Oliveira was taken off by Neil after Howson had been dismissed for handling the ball on the line and Garath McCleary re-established the hosts' lead.

Explaining that decision after the game, City's manager added: "The reason behind the change was the fact that we went down to ten men and I think we needed fresh energy on the pitch.

"Nelson's first half wasn't as good as what he's capable of, but he came alive in the second half and scored a good goal.

"We let it run for five minutes, but I felt that when you go down to ten men, having pace at the top of the pitch keeps them honest and gave us a chance to stretch the game."

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