Reading FC manager Veljko Paunovic felt his side displayed significant progress as they scored three goals - but lost 4-3 - to Huddersfield Town at the Select Car Leasing Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Paunovic’s team took the lead through Lucas Joao after just five minutes, but goals from Daniel Sinani and Danny Ward in a frantic opening quarter of an hour saw the visitors race into a 2-1 lead. George Puscas’ first Championship goal of the season then made it 2-2 before Ward struck again. 

Michael Morrison’s header on the stroke of half-time ensured that Reading would go into the break level at 3-3 but Ward’s well-hit strike after the break gave Huddersfield the lead they would never relinquish.

The defeat makes it just two wins in Reading’s last 15 Championship matches, but Paunovic feels his side are headed in the right direction.

“I think overall it was better than the last games during this horrible month of January,” the manager said after full-time. “I think we proved our cohesion, we were much more aggressive from the beginning, much more determined. 

“We started the game very well but unfortunately, our problems in defence as a whole team endure. We still have to look to minimise individual mistakes, eradicate the naivety we have, and stop the bleeding.

“But again, I think the cohesion and especially the improvement we’ve seen today was in attack. From those guys who worked in the frontline - Puscas and Joao supported by Swift and the rest of the team. I think that worked very well. That’s something we are looking to build.”

Going forward, Reading were at their best in a long while, scoring three goals for just the fourth time this season. But defensive errors made those goals count for nothing.

Reading Chronicle: George Puscas celebrates his goal against Huddersfield. Image by: JasonPIXGeorge Puscas celebrates his goal against Huddersfield. Image by: JasonPIX

“I believe the whole block is still shaky,” Paunovic said of his side’s suspect defending. “When we close down one side sometimes we are late to jump on their midfielders or close the pass forward. It comes from different lines, not always the same. 

“So we have to be much more solid, much more compact. That’s going to come with a few more performances because like I said - and I know I’m repeating myself - no team in the world can cope with three weeks of Covid within his squad and 18 players who need to recover from that.

“January for us is a horrible month because we have to compete against teams that are in better shape than us. And for us, it looks like preseason because of all these issues. That’s the reason I think we’re still shaky in our block. But it’s getting there and today I think when comparing to last weeks, I think we improved.”

This tough month of January will see Reading play one more time when they head to west London to face QPR next weekend at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.