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5 Things: Reading v Barnsley

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A poor result on Tuesday night gave the Royals much to think about going into Saturday's game at home to Huddersfield. Bucks Royal gives us his five key talking points from the match.

Ben Hoskins

1. Home discomforts...

To say the least, our home form of late has been very disappointing, although it's probably true of the entire season. We've failed to take three points off Bournemouth, Millwall, Wigan (when they were in a much weaker position than they are now), Sheffield Wednesday, Blackburn, Yeovil and now Barnsley. No one's expecting us to have taken the maximum 21 points from those games, but the 2 we got in reality isn't good enough.

However, I don't think that it can be put down to a simple matter of ‘counter-attack away from home, lack of a plan at the Madejski'. Our best home form this season (those lovely two games against Bolton and Blackpool) came at a time of low expectations. We had just come out of a pretty dismal Christmas period and, in all truth, we probably weren't expecting that much from those two games. The result? The players had far less pressure on themselves, and actually looked like they were enjoying themselves. For players like Le Fondre and McCleary (two of our best attackers), not to mention Akpan and Blackman (both ridiculed by much of the fan base), that confidence did them the world of good - the last two both finding the net against Bolton.

The fans need to find some positivity and get behind the team when things are tough at the Madejski - anything less and we'll be in the Championship next season.

2. Kudos to the visitors...

The prospect of a Tuesday night away fixture in Yorkshire or Lancashire for any fan of a southern club is a pretty bleak prospect. Not that the north isn't lovely (my family name originates from a northern village in the middle of quite literally nowhere), but the idea of driving for half a day just to sit in the cold whilst your team fights out a bore draw just isn't appealing. But, on the flipside, it's the same for the northerners when they have to do the same. As such, I think the 182 Barnsley fans that made the trip down deserve a mention. Being bottom of the league, probably without any expectations of a result, you wouldn't blame them if they had stayed at home. But, nonetheless, credit to those that made the midweek trek down.

3. The academy marches on...

Ever since he arrived at the club, Nigel Adkins has constantly said how much he values the youth of this club, and that it will get its chance in the first team. On Tuesday night, Craig Tanner was the latest in a long line of academy graduates to have been involved in the first team squad at some point this season. So far this term, we've seen... Jem Karacan, Alex Pearce, Hal Robson-Kanu, Alex McCarthy, Jake Taylor, Michael Hector and Jordan Obita all earn a number of games in the first team. Asides from them, we've even seen players like Niall Keown, Aaron Tshibola and Pierce Sweeney earn places on the bench, not to mention Jonathan Henly and Dominic Samuel both being involved with the first team squad last season. For the rhetoric to be put into action in such fashion underlines the faith of the manager in the academy, and gives us a lot to look forward to.

4. Tuesday night ticket prices...

The Madejski stadium is a 24,000 seater one, so to only see 16,000 fans turn up on Tuesday night is not exactly awe-inspiring. Barnsley at home on a Tuesday is hardly the biggest game of the season, but I for one would like to see the club react to that in order to pull in a bigger attendance. Ticket prices at the Mad Stad aren't as big as other clubs in this league, but dropping those prices for games that aren't likely to bring a crowd would make sense for a couple of reasons. Firstly, for the sake of the match, the more the merrier - it lifts everyone seeing a bigger crowd. Secondly, it makes financial sense - advertising the fact that prices are being dropped for the odd game would bring in more fans on those occasions, and would probably pay off with the higher attendance.

5. The opposition slip up just as much...

Tuesday night was a fantastic opportunity to give ourselves some breathing space in the hunt for 6th place, and we'd even have been level on points with Wigan had the result gone our way. That said, the fact that we're still in a play-off position despite our poor home form gives me a lot of confidence that, when we slip up, our immediate rivals can do so too. Whilst we were losing to Barnsley, Wigan, Forest and Brighton all failed to pick up any points too. This play-off hunt could get extremely tight come the end of the season...

What were your talking points from the match? Any causes for optimism? Any key issues that I didn't mention in the article? Feel free to leave a comment below...