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Paul Ince hails 'outstanding' Jeff Hendrick

The Irish midfielder scored his first goal since joining Reading on loan from Newcastle.

Paul Ince (file pic).
Paul Ince (file pic).
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

READING BOSS PAUL Ince praised Ireland international Jeff Hendrick’s “outstanding” performance, as the Dubliner scored a goal to earn his side a point that could prove crucial come the end of the season amid a 1-1 draw with Norwich City tonight.

The Royals went closest to breaking the first-half deadlock, with an Andy Carroll header well saved by City goalkeeper Tim Krul and Hendrick grazing a post with a long-range effort.

Skipper Grant Hanley gave Norwich a 50th-minute advantage, pouncing at the far post following a corner, but Hendrick levelled on the hour when he beat Krul at the near post for his first Reading goal.

Reading stay in third place in the second tier after their first draw of the season.

“It was a hard-earned point,” manager Paul Ince said. “We were very good in the first half and disappointed at half-time not to be winning.

“It was then disappointing to concede the first goal, I don’t like conceding from set-pieces – we spend a lot of time on that.

“But we got spurred on by the crowd and the players again showed that bouncebackability – they never gave in.

“We thoroughly deserved to get the equaliser from Jeff [Hendrick], who I thought was outstanding.

“The lads are in the changing-room and they’re disappointed that they’ve not won the game, that we’ve not got the three points. That’s how far we’ve come.”

Ince feels that his side has not received the plaudits that they deserve this season.

“We’re not getting enough credit for what we’ve done, the players are not getting enough credit for what they’ve done,” Ince said.

“Under the circumstances – the transfer embargo, the (EFL) restrictions, all the injuries.

“But that probably drives us on and we’ll keep staying under the radar.”

Though the draw extended second-placed City’s unbeaten league run to nine matches, a victory would have taken them above leaders Sheffield United.

“Yes, it was a frustrating night,” Dean Smith said. “We’ve taken the lead but ended up not winning the game.

“I would normally expect us to go on to win the game when we’ve taken the lead.

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“We gave a poor goal away, in terms of us having nine or 10 bodies inside our box when a shot from outside it goes in.

“We’ve had a lot of comfortable possession today but we’ve probably not been as effective with it as we’d like in the final third.

“Sometimes you have to give credit to the opposition. I think that Reading defended the spaces behind them really well.

“They didn’t give Teemu (Pukki) an awful lot of space to run into.

“It was a game that was really starved of clear-cut chances. There wasn’t a lot of them throughout the whole game.

“On reflection, it was probably a fair result.”

Additional reporting by Paul Fennessy

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