What a ruddy win that was. I don't get to many away games but Ashton Gate always throws up crackers, with my last visit being a 3-3 in 2002 that saw five goals in the first 14 minutes. I wasn't sure that could be topped but then a little gem by the name Liam Kelly turned things around and magic ensued.
Anyway, the joy of a late comeback aside, what did we learn from Reading's 3-2 victory to start 2017?
Today's stats are taken from Squawka, WhoScored and Experimental361.
Yann Kermorgant has been a bit of a divisive figure ever since Brian McDermott brought him to Berkshire last January. Then 34, few saw Yann making a big impact at the Mad Stad and a return of just three goals in 17 games did little to dispel that notion.
Even at the start of this season, fans, including myself, wondered if Kermorgant was really the answer in Jaap Stam's style of play. However, as the old cliche goes, 'you don't know what you've got till it's gone' and Kermy's injury in November showed just how important he was in holding the system together. He's certainly got his limitations, and a goal return of five from open play isn't overly inspiring but yesterday he demonstrated the quality, class and vital experience he brings to the squad.
Ironically, Kermorgant's overall performance yesterday wasn't overly impressive and until his opener he was carrying a statistical performance score of -5 over at Squawka, with a passing success rate of just 55%, and only winning a single header in the City half. Yet Kermorgant still had the nouse and experience to be in the right place at the right time, to pick his spots and keep going and he was rewarded with two fine goals.
I'm still not sure he's the answer to help us push the top two, but his overall worth to the squad can't be ignored.
Kelly Turns The Game
What you want from your bench is to have players who can change games and that's exactly what Liam Kelly did, scoring the opener and setting up the equaliser to wreck City's afternoon.
His confidence on the ball and ability to make a pass is astonishing for a player who's played so little league football and it's hard to believe that this time last year he was getting ready to make a loan move to Bath City in the 6th tier.
As mentioned, his ability to make important passes is impressive and look at how many he got right around the box at Ashton Gate.
To complete so many passes deep in opposition territory is very impressive and Kelly totally outshone John Swift, whose display was understandably limited after his recent injury struggles.
Already the Irishman is showing what he can bring to the team, he's averaging 2.1 key passes (those that lead to a chance) per 90 minutes, which is a rate only bettered by Garath McCleary among those to have made a start this season.
Getting him signed up to a new deal might just be the best bit of January transfer business we do.
Defensive Struggles On The Road
If there's a negative from yesterday's performance it was once again the fact that Reading allowed their opposition to score twice, taking their total number of goals leaked on the road to 11 in the last four games.
Reading are the seventh WORST in the Championship for shots conceded on their travels, with an average of 14.9 for Ali Al-Habsi to deal with. As I touched on when looking at 'luck' a few weeks ago, that's not something you want to see.
Likewise, only four teams have conceded more than our 23 away from the Madejski and as awesome to watch as these 3-2 wins are, they're something that historically are very hard to maintain over a long campaign. When you consider the overall strength of the teams we've had to play away, the rest of the season on the road is looking a daunting task.
So Reading still have to take on seven of the top-half teams away from home not to mention a couple of sides who could still be fighting a relegation battle in the closing weeks.
Yet the positive argument is that with six away wins already this season, Stam's side have built up a nice little cushion to the point where they only really need to win another 4/5 of those games to be all but play-off certainties.
Reading Remain The Statistical Freaks Of The Championship
As hinted at above, the stats don't look as you'd expect for a team sitting third in the table beyond the half-way point in a Championship campaign. In fact, based on one statistical model Reading should probably be fighting a relegation battle right now.
The beauty of this game is that stats sometimes just don't matter. I'm sure many of you who've played Football Manager, PES or FIFA over the years will point to games, even seasons where you've smashed oppositions game after game and yet just can't buy a win. Likewise you'll have had games where you fail to create much but every chance you get seems to sneak in. Reading are much more the later this season but they're proving that while not an ideal to win, it's not a fluke.
Yet stats and trends do exist for a good reason and that's because generally, the longer you go on the more likely you are to follow them. As I mentioned the other week, it's like walking into a casino, playing roulette and coming out up. It can happen once, twice, maybe ten times in a row but the more you play the more likely you are to lose because the odds are in favour of the house. Reading might well continue to buck the odds for the next 20 games but logic dictates that they still need to improve and reinforce if they want to feel comfortable about it.