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The Nigel Adkins Era in Seven Matches

Nigel Adkins has been sacked as Reading manager after a disastrous run of results and performances which left the owners with no choice but to cut the former Southampton gaffer loose. Bucks Royal takes a look at seven key matches from his 21 month reign.

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The last 21 months of Reading's history have been amongst the most eventful and turbulent in our recent history. From the ownership saga that still engulfs the club to an sharp drop away from Premiership status, the Nigel Adkins era has been frequently unpredictable, sometimes painful to watch, but always entertaining.

I've put together what I think are the seven key matches during Nigel Adkins' time at the club, but there are so many others you could pick out: the batterings at Peterborough and Bournemouth and the Royal routs of Bolton and Blackpool certainly stick in the memory.

1. Fulham 2-4 Reading, 4th May 2013

In true Reading style, the Royals put on one of their best performances of that season as soon as they'd been relegated. The week before, a dire goalless stalemate with Queens Park Rangers had sealed both teams' fates for the coming campaign, but this trip to London would end in far more cheer. Hal Robson-Kanu capped his impressive Premier League form with a well-taken brace - form that we haven't seen since.

There was even time for Jem Karacan to score his first (and only, so far) Premiership goal, and Adam Le Fondre to become the top-scoring top-flight substitute of all time. At the time, this game gave the fans real hope going into the summer transfer window, with ambitions of an immediate return very much in the mind.

2. Reading 3-3 Watford, 17th August 2013

Having made what looked to be some top-quality acquisitions to the squad in Wayne Bridge, Royston Drenthe and Danny Williams, Reading started the new Championship campaign pretty brightly. The first key test was the visit of high-flying Watford in mid-August, but the home side more than held their own. Jem Karacan notched a brace, with Reading playing some of the best football we saw under Nigel Adkins. The positive mood at the club was summed up, if anything, by the not at all embarrassing 'Royals Showboat' videos on YouTube.

3. Watford 0-1 Reading, 11th January 2014

Fast-forward to the New Year, and things were looking very different when Reading faced Watford for the second time that season. The Royals had gone through a dreadful Christmas, putting in some lifeless performances and picking up just seven points from seven games going into this encounter. Plus, with the playing style coming under intense criticism, Nigel Adkins was under pressure to change things around.

He responded by switching Reading to the same 4-4-2 line-up that he would put out for the next seven games in a row. Danny Williams partnered Hope Akpan in the centre of midfield, with Kaspars Gorkss returning to the defence (keeping a clean sheet and scoring the winner in the process). Nigel also put Jordan Obita at left back for the first time, not that that worked in the long run at all...

4. QPR 1-3 Reading, 16th February 2014

That 'back to basics' 4-4-2 lineup was working rather well at this point. The ghosts of late 2013 had been banished by a return to form that included consecutive Mad Stad batterings of Bolton Wanderers and Blackpool, but this was arguably one of Reading's finest hours in Nigel Adkins' time at the helm. Reading visited promotion hopefuls QPR (who would indeed later be promoted), putting on an impressive away performance that ignited the confidence in a Playoff charge.

Danny Williams opened the scoring, continuing his dominating form in the middle of the park, with Alex Pearce regaining the lead after Kevin Doyle had equalised (then celebrating) for the home side. What happened next can only be explained by this video...

5. Reading 1-1 Yeovil Town, 1st March 2014

Two weeks later, and Reading were back at home for what was, on paper, one of the easiest games of the season: the visit of rock-bottom Yeovil Town. If anything derailed the promotion campaign that year, it was the dreadful home form in the second half of the season - after the Bolton and Blackpool games, Reading only managed one more win at the Madejski.

The Yeovil game pretty much sums that up - having recently seen off a promotion rival away from home, Reading failed to break down the worst team in the division on their own patch. This despite having a whopping 29 shots and Yeovil ending the game with 9 men. The visitors took the lead in the first half through Shane Duffy, and from there on in Reading struggled to get back into the game. By now, it was starting to become clear that Nigel Adkins' men couldn't buy a win at the Madejski.

6. Reading 2-2 Burnley, 3rd May 2014

Ah yes, the Burnley game. The Clarets do have a knack of spoiling a party don't they? This was arguably one of the Royals' best performances of the season - with the key duo of Guthrie and Williams still out, they more than held their own against the second best team in the division. But a moment of quality can knock you off your stride, and another can put you on the ground - goals from Scott Arfield and Danny Ings denying Reading a place in the Playoffs. Of course, Garath McCleary did his best to remedy that with one of the great Mad Stad goals...

The Burnley game arguably marked the end of an era for Reading, in the same way that a Playoff defeat to the same team had closed the door on Steve Coppell's time at the club. The likes of Jobi McAnuff, Adam Le Fondre, Mikele Leigertwood and Alex McCarthy pulled on a Reading shirt for the last time that afternoon. From Nigel's point of view, we haven't had the same level of expectations since the final whistle blew. Despite all the difficulties that season, Reading were one Brighton goal away from booking their place in the top six. That feels a million miles away now.

7. Birmingham 6-1 Reading, 13th December 2014

Last season, I made the trip up to the Midlands to see a Jobi McAnuff brace see off Birmingham City - what a difference a few months make. Nigel Adkins' time in charge of Reading came to an unceremonious end with this  6-1 battering last Saturday, leaving the board with little choice as to Nigel's future. It was the latest in a long run of poor performances from the Royals, in a season that was also blighted by an injury plague and the ongoing ownership saga. Debate will continue as to how much control Nigel Adkins actually had over Reading's form this season, but such a comprehensive defeat couldn't have gone unpunished.

What games would you pick out from Nigel Adkins' time in charge? Leave a comment below.