April 19, 2011
To compliment the 'View From The Coach' and the 'View From The Town End' segments, we get the views from our own fans on the last home game, in what we're calling Fans View From The Tilehurst End. This week our newest contributor Sarah Neeson gives us her verdit on the Leicester game.
Having never completed a double over Leicester, not even in our breath-taking Championship winning season, Saturday's game proved there is a first time for everything. Listening to 'Ashes' by Embrace echo around the Stadium whilst the players endured an energising warm up, triggered emotions similar to those felt in April 2005, when I met ReadingFC for the first time. Falling in love with the club was instant. There was no hesitation, somehow you just know where you belong and ReadingFC was going to be my second home from that moment onwards.
Expecting to watch standard games of football at the Madejski, is a bit like going on Tidal Wave at Thorpe Park with the anticipation that you won't get wet. Every Reading game you go to is so different because in this league, you are guaranteed nothing until the final whistle of the final game of the season.
Prior to Saturday we had five league games remaining, three at home and two away, at Leeds and Coventry respectively. A continuous trend of seven wins meant The Royals were going to be incredibly hard to break down, and so the game came to prove this.
My actual views on the game shouldn't surprise any avid Reading fan. Watching the boys in blue and white hoops Saturday was a joyous occasion even though at times we were outplayed by a Leicester team who had more loanees playing than actual permanent players. The Foxes arguably bossed the midfield, but despite that we still managed to come out on top in the end. A large part of this was due to the fact that we took our chances, something which was absent earlier on in the season.
two goals in two minutes sent the Madejski crowd into a frenzy. After our second goal, I screamed so loud, a guy in front of me ended up turning around and we had this crazy moment where we both just celebrated together. Moments like these you just have to savour and hope you don't have to wait for too long before they come around again.
The tempo of the game on Saturday was extraordinary and end to end football and this type of game is something every football fan should be keen sit back and enjoy. Leicester City are a side who have spent a lot of money on players in the hope that a promotion would reward their investments. The way they controlled everything in midfield, their passing was pleasing to the eye, perhaps I could go as far as saying they were the best side I've seen play against us this season. At 0-0 my good friend Neil commented, 'Brilliant football there Leicester, just feel free not to score.' Much to my relief, their players weren't able to produce the end product, something Kebe, McAnuff and Hunt all managed. Posession doesn't win games, strangely goals do that. If the commentators could be reminded of this, after they proclaimed that Leicester were the better side, that'd be appreciated.
Our first goal was created by the sheer endeavour of a young man, who has progressed so much over the past six years that you'd hope blue and white blood would always pump through his veins. This same guy ran determinedly into the box, cut in a cross which Jimmy Kebe forcefully put away. A lovely goal assisted by the ever improving Shane Long. If that wasn't enough to build extreme optimism in the home fans, a second goal in as many minutes arguably sealed the win. We'd just finished celebrating the first goal when, Jobi McAnuff was given enough space to run into Leicester's defence to strike a low shot, which easily found the bottom right corner of the goal. After our second goal, Leicester piled the pressure on and it took a stunning save from McCarthy for the score to remain 2-0 as the half time whistle went. A sigh of relief was felt amongst the fans surrounding me, with one commenting, 'I'd quite happily go home now as the 2nd half might well be frustrating.'
Luckily, a frustrating half was not to be witnessed from a Royals point of view. As the half progressed Reading seemed to settle and became comfortable with their passing. The game was sewn up halfway through a second lively half of football. It is typical of Reading's pace and guile that we nipped a throw deep in our half off their toes, Kebe set off on his umpteenth blinding, winding run, which could certainly give Usain Bolt a run for his money. The crowd all rose as he stormed passed them, like an opposite domino effect. Suddenly he was inside the Leicester box, pulled the cross back, which landed at the feet of Hunt. Delirium. We had been outplayed but were 3-0 up. The crowd sang: That's why we're going up. I bet that Sven would ruefully agree.
During the game our defence was rock solid, no Leicester player could out-fox us and get a shot on target, thanks to our defenders putting their bodies on the line throughout. In the end it took a beautiful strike to undo our back four and indeed, McCarthy. A strike I had to applaud. After their goal there was a nervy few minutes where The Foxes dominated. A second goal gifted to them would have meant a frantic end to the game. However, the difference between the sides was Reading's confidence and belief that they could hold onto the three points. They ultimately did so with ease.
Can a team, who have just picked up 24 points from the last eight games, continue to collect a further 12 points which could confirm their place in the Premiership next season? After a tough few years experiencing the heartache of relegation and a failed promotion bid, I can't think of another team who deserve promotion more than The Royals. Of course, in football the fairytale doesn't always come true, this is Championship football, not a Cinderella story. But if there is any justice then the hard work of Brian McDermott and the honest endeavours of a team cobbled together from the shell of Coppell's record-breakers will result in our own happily-ever-after in May.