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19 games to go - Comparing Reading's seasons in the Championship

The 2-0 defeat to Ipswich left the Royals on 41 points from 27 league games this season, still nestled in sixth place in the Championship table. So with just 19 games to go lets look back on previous run-ins to see if there's any extra reasons to be positive or pessimistic about our promotion hopes.

Jordan Mansfield
Reading FC in Second Tier (Since 2002/03)
Season Points After 27 Games Position After 27 Games Points from last 19 Games Final Position Final Points Points needed for Play-offs Points needed for Automatic Promotion
2005/06 66 1st 40 1st 106 68 91
2008/09 54 2nd 23 4th 77 75 81
2004/05 48 4th 22 7th 70 71 86
2002/03 43 7th 36 4th 79 71 81
2011/12 42 8th 47 1st 89 71 87
2013/14 41 6th 29* ---- 70* 71* 86*
2010/11 41 8th 36 5th 77 73 81
2003/04 39 10th 31 9th 70 72 80
2009/10 26 22nd 37 9th 63 70 80

*Based on current pace

Firstly lets look at the good news.

With 41 points or more after 27 games, Reading have gone on to make the play-offs or better in five of their six previous attempts.

The only side that failed to make the top six was Steve Coppell's 2004/05 side who collected a miserable return of 22 points from their final 19 games and slumped out of the play-off places.

Looking back at those nine seasons, the minimum you've needed for a play-off place is 68 but on average you've needed a touch over 71 to make sure of your place in the end of season lottery. Reading are currently on pace for 70 but would miss out if Brighton win their game in hand and current paces continue.

On the negative side of things, it's looking an increasingly uphill, and near on impossible task to get into the top two. The minimum points you've needed to go up automatically has been 80, meaning Reading would need to accumulate 39 points, or 13 wins from 19 games to reach that mark.

While it's been done before (40 in 05/06 & 47 in 11/12) the form of both QPR, Leicester and Burnley mean that based on current paces it's going to take 86 points to sneak into the top two, in other words repeating that stunning run from 2 years ago, something you can't help but feel is beyond this squad (unless they get major reinforcements)

Looking at our run-in this season and realistically, a points haul of 29 from a possible 57, which would have us in the hunt for a play-off place, seems a more than doable total.

10 of those games come at home, with Derby, Leicester and Burnley the only teams we have to face that are currently in the top six. Away from home is trickier with tough trips to QPR, Brighton, Wigan and Leeds but there should be opportunities to pick up points at Millwall, Charlton, Bournemouth and Doncaster.

Just for fun (and probably to be shot down come our end of season review) here's how I've predicted our last 19.

CURRENT POSITION VENUE POINTS
BLACKPOOL 14th H 3
MILLWALL 21st A 1
SHEFF WEDS 19th H 3
QPR 2nd A 0
BLACKBURN 9th H 1
YEOVIL 23rd H 3
BRIGHTON 8th A 0
LEEDS 12th A 0
DERBY 4th H 1
BIRMINGHAM 17th A 1
BARNSLEY 24th H 3
HUDDERSFIELD 13th H 3
CHARLTON 22nd A 3
BOURNEMOUTH 16th A 1
LEICESTER 1st H 1
WIGAN 11th A 0
MIDDLESBROUGH 10th H 1
DONCASTER 20th A 3
BURNLEY 3rd H 1
TOTAL 29

I think I've been fairly conservative with my predictions there, with only seven wins forecast in that 19 game run, albeit with just 4 defeats in that span. Overall I've predicted 29 points from here on in, which would see Reading getting to the 70 point mark, which fingers crossed should get them into the top six.

While my usual predication is to look at things in a half-empty way, I'd still argue that Reading's glass is half-full as we head into the run-in.

Our recent form has been improving, even with a depleted squad and with key players still to come back from injury, with a bit of luck we'll have a stronger squad come the end of February even if we don't manage to add anyone in January.

Personally I see our fate being decided by that run of games that starts with Blackburn at home on the 22nd of February, through to the trip to Bournemouth on April 8th. In that run of games we'll face seven teams currently 12th or lower and our ability (or non-ability...) to finish those sides off will be vital given we close the season having to play four of our final five games against likely promotion chasers (and a team who could be in a relegation scrap, Donny).

At the moment it's all just stats, hunches and predictions but all that we can say so far is that Reading have got themselves into a brilliant position to nick a place in the play-offs and here's hoping they can take advantage of that despite some questionable performances throughout the campaign.

So how do you see the run-in going? Please let us know your thoughts below.