'Where's the advantage? It's nonsense' - Reading boss Mark Bowen frustrated as referee lets Leeds United game flow
Mark Bowen was frustrated by the advantage given to his Reading side late on in their 1-0 defeat to Leeds United by referee Jarred Gillett, having worked on set-piece moves ahead of the game.
The Royals boss said he had made it clear, via the fourth official, that they had no interest in playing advantage after fouls unless it was a goalscoring opportunity.
Instead, Gillett allowed the game to flow and, in Bowen's eyes, cost them the chance to put Leeds under pressure from free-kicks late in the game.
It was a disappointing afternoon all round for Bowen, who lost influential attacker Ovie Ejaria to a groin injury in the warm-up and watched in agony as Liam Moore was denied by Whites stopper Kiko Casilla in late Elland Road drama.
"Disappointed, I thought we did enough to come away with something," he said.
"First half we had a few opportunities, you have to come here and keep things tight, play a bit of counter attacking football. We did well to create possible opportunities but a little bit of guile or the final ball could have been better.
"Second half we were expecting more of an onslaught from Leeds and it came, no doubt about that. I looked at the goal back, we've got a ball that goes up to the front, hits George Puscas on the hand, ref gives a free-kick, understand that, it goes out wide, it's a poor first touch from their full-back, it goes behind our full-back, it goes to the corner, next minute it's in the box, it seemed to be bobbling about and it's a good finish from Hernandez I have to say.
Reading switched to 4-4-2 to try and spark some momentum but didn't have too many clear cut chances to level, until Moore escaped the clutches of Leeds captain Liam Cooper and ran in on Casilla, who saved his shot.
Bowen felt his player was perhaps 'too honest' having been fouled in the area.
"I thought Liam Moore was punished for being too honest," said Bowen.
"The fella is dragging him and pulling him, all over him and he stays on his feet. I think if he'd gone down, I'm not saying he'd have got a penalty, he deserved one, I don't know if he'd have got one."
That compounded Bowen's frustration, having been denied, in his eyes, chances to deliver training ground set-pieces.
"One instance I'll give you: I did say when you come to Elland Road you know you're going to be under pressure all game," he said.
"The fourth official said his communication with the referee, his ear piece wasn't working, no problem with that. I said to him halfway through the first half, I did not want any advantage played, unless somebody was literally clean through on goal, please we don't want any advantage, we want to kill the game, set up set-plays we worked on in the week.
"Start of the second half he told me yes, he told the referee, don't worry about it. Then five minutes to go in the game, there were two opportunities where we should have had free-kicks, the chance to put the ball in the box and the referee is putting his hands up saying play on. I'll go see him again, in a nice way, just have a conversation about it but I don't know how that can come about.
"Nothing might have happened from it. We should have had two free-kicks. Our players are honest, they want to carry on, it's the referee who should be in charge of it. When they've got four behind the ball where's the advantage? It's nonsense."
Bowen paid tribute to Michael Olise, a French teenager who was supposed to be on Reading's bench for the game until Ejaria hurt himself in the warm-up.
Olise impressed his manager with his performance and according to Bowen has a bright future ahead of him.
"Young Michael, special mention he's a special talent, just turned 18 years old. Ejaria pulled his goin in the warm up, that hits the team hard he's been such a catalyst for us this year. Young Michael comes on and showed maturity, intelligence in his play. He's going to be a big player and a special player."