Reading: Federici, Mills, Gorkks, Pearce, Cummings, McAnuff, Tabb, Leigertwood, Hunt (Manset), Le Fondre, Church (Robson-Kanu)
Admit it, who'd given up this one for dead? I'll certainly put myself in that category after 70 minutes of Reading action that made the Watford game look like a dominant Royals performance.
But how could I rule out a Brian McDermott team, the same team that had earned so many late points in the last two years and did so on Tuesday with a stunning comeback that could just kick-start the season.
Below the jump we'll look back on a 'rollercoaster night' at the Ashton Gate.
Saturday's performance at Coventry hadn't exactly been inspired but four points from the past two games had given us some hope that Brian was getting to know his best XI and a trip to a team that hadn't won at home all year seemed to be a good place to build on that. With Kebe still missing through injury Brian kept the same XI that has started the 1-1 draw at the Ricoh but sadly that team started the way they'd finished three days ago, as Bristol City took control of the game from the early stages.
Reading could have been a goal down after just a few minutes only for Adomah's goal to be ruled out for offside. City would only have to wait until the 23rd minute to lead when the same man burst through the Royals back line, outpacing Joe Mills before hitting a shot of Federici that seemed to take a slight deflection of off Mills' outstretched leg.
It could have been much worse had Nicky Maynard taken his chance when similarly through 1-1 but thankfully his shot smashed the crossbar and Reading held out to go into the break within a goal.
Reading haven't got a reputation for starting the second period with much drive and this game was no different as a Royals team seemingly devoid of creativity struggled for 15 minutes until City made it 2-0 on the hour, seemingly consigning us to another away defeat.
It was at this point that my mind did wander towards thoughts of a relegation battle... wondering if we really would struggle this season and contemplating some scenarios that might salvage a mid-table finish. Such thoughts were aided by the Bristol City forwards, who forced Federici into some fine saves just to keep the score respectable, while our midfield again failed to fuel our forward two.
But the introduction of Hal Robson-Kanu with just over 20 minutes left gave us another threat down the wings and suddenly out of nowhere 'Calamity' David James reappeared..... The Bristol City and former England keeper, failed to deal with Tabb's cross which was meekly punched straight to Jobi McAnuff who fired in to make the score 2-1. Minutes later and James again failed to deal with an effort on goal and could only parry into the path of Le Fondre and it was 2-2, game on it's head and we're looking the better side. Matthieu Manset doesn't like to score early goals it seems. His two on the opening day at Millwall both came with less than five minutes on the clock and four minutes into stoppage time at Ashton Gate the Beast again saved the day, delightfully backheeling past James to give Reading a much needed win and send the few hundred Royals fans at the ground home happy.
It would be foolish to say that we deserved it but given the number of times you leave a game thinking you deserved more from a game, it's nice to have the karma balance out once in a while. More importantly it's comeback wins like this that really can help bond a team back together, while the impact of subs like Robson-Kanu and Manset can motivate the starting XI even more to perform and remind those on the fringes what an impact they can have from the bench.
A few words of caution though and once again our midfield looked dreadful and devoid of any sort of quality. It's for that reason that I can't agree with Brian Howard being allowed to leave on loan to Millwall as surely we need something different or at least TRY something a bit different. Still In Brian McDermott we trust and you appreciate why he let Howard go as it was right by the player. Joe Mills was also uninspiring and the words I wrote in the Coventry match report seem just as pertinent here as they did then. Ian Harte will certainly be seeing the door as opened a little bit, or not blown off the hinges quite yet.
Still, negativity is not healthy and you're only as good as your last 18+4 minutes in football they say, so on that basis a 3-0 away win is a sign that we're storming up the league! time to get those bets on ladies and gents....
Next up is a visit from Middlesbrough, a team who were thumped 5-2 at the Madejski just six months ago. Since then though Boro have made a great start to the new season sitting in third place, with Tony Mowbray looking to take another side back to the Premier League as he did with West Brom four years ago. Still, after struggling against strugglers the past few weeks it'll be nice to be seen as slight underdogs for once, a tag we always enjoy. See you Saturday.