Today was an off-day, says caretaker Ireland as nine-man Forest lose at Reading

Caretaker manager Simon Ireland believes Nottingham Forest can still reach the Sky Bet Championship play-offs, despite seeing his nine-man side go down 2-0 at struggling Reading.

Forest offered little going forward in a scrappy first half and went behind in the 23rd minute when Reading midfielder John Swift tucked home Mo Barrow’s low cross.

Danny Fox, the Forest skipper, was sent off in the 62nd minute after picking up his second yellow card during a melee involving numerous players.

Forest’s misery was compounded when defender Tendayi Darikwa also saw red, for a lunge at Danny Loader in the 83rd minute, and Jack Robinson scored an own goal three minutes from time.

Ireland, in temporary charge of Forest after Aitor Karanka left the club on Friday, said: “No one is going to win all their games in the Championship.

“You have to keep yourselves in there, in that pack.

“We’re just below the play-offs (four points) and we’re only a couple of results from getting ourselves back in the top six.

“We’ve got a couple of home games coming up against Bristol City and Wigan so we can do that. Today was just an off-day.

“It was impossible for the last 24 hours not to have had an effect on the players and we didn’t start the game as we wanted to.

“We wanted to try to get after Reading and press them but I thought that their movement was quite good.

“Once the game settled down, we got back into it and created some good opportunities in the first half.

“We regrouped at half-time and changed what we were doing.

“I was disappointed to concede the first goal and also when we went down to 10 men and then nine men.

“For an experienced player like Danny [Fox] to get involved in an argument, when already on a yellow card, was disappointing. He was a bit naive.

“Both Danny and Tendayi have apologised to both myself and the other players in the dressing room.

“It was just a bad day today, but we are more than capable of getting back into the play-offs.”

Reading won for the first time in 11 league games and it was the first win for new manager Jose Gomes at the fifth attempt.

“I’m very happy for Reading,” Gomes said. “It was not my game. My victory was for the Reading club.

“It was a very important three points that we got today, three very important points for the future.

“But we still have 19 battles in front of us until the end of the season.

“We need now need to recapture the good things that we did today, the intelligent way that we started playing this match.

“And the way that we did the pressing movements and the way that we recovered the ball in midfield.

“We must keep this for the future and show the same behaviour in the upcoming matches.

“Today we scored, which was the big difference to some of our other games. It was very important to do that.

“We have to be clinical in the right moments. We must again feel the taste when you score a goal. I want my players to again taste the flavour of scoring goals.”

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