Jose Gomes admitted he had no complaints with referee Andy Davies after his first game as Reading boss ended in his side being reduced to nine men in a 1-0 defeat to Millwall.
The Lions took the lead after eight minutes at The Den through a Jed Wallace free-kick, before Tyler Blackett was shown a straight red for a dangerous tackle on the goalscorer.
Despite being down to 10 men, Reading had the better of possession but any hopes they had of an equaliser were extinguished when Leandro Bacuna was sent off in the 88th minute.
The result means Millwall climbed above Reading and out of the Championship relegation zone, but Gomes – who was appointed on Saturday – took encouragement from his side’s performance despite suggesting their indiscipline had cost them the game.
“It was a very difficult match, even 11 versus 11 for sure it would be a difficult match,” he said. “Playing 85 minutes with 10 or part with nine, it was a very difficult mission for my players.
“But they fought until the last second and until the last second the game was open, so I’m proud of their attitude, what they showed on the pitch.
“During a long period of time we controlled the game with the ball. My assistant just let me know that we got 58 per cent of the possession playing with one player less.
“It means that we can control the game easily, we could have controlled the game easily with 11 players and created more goal situations.
“We didn’t like the result, we didn’t like the red cards and I’m not complaining against the referee, maybe I should complain with my players. We are proud of our attitude and blood that my players showed that they have inside them, they were brave.”
While Millwall manager Neil Harris was frustrated his side were unable to add to Wallace’s first-half strike, he hailed a “huge” three points as they claimed only a fifth home win of the season.
“I think we saw the edginess in the stadium and in the players as well,” he said. “I understand that. We have been in the lead so many times and thrown it away.
“It was a cup final. Shaun Williams used the words before the game. Playing against a team directly above us, on the same points. You don’t want to lose out – it’s a huge three points.”
On the red cards, he added: “At the time I thought the first one he had lunged. I thought it could go either way – it had to be a card. Having watched it back, it was really reckless and dangerous.
“He loses control of the ball and makes an honest attempt for the ball, but it’s dangerous in the modern game. The second one is right in front of me. Again, can the boy avoid him? I don’t know.”