After a really, really good result against Newcastle, the Royals travelled to deepest Lancashire, to face an inform Preston side. What followed was a fairly good 30 minutes where Reading looked capable then a 60 minute capitulation where we looked like a relegation side rather than a promotion chasing side.
The Lilywhites on the other hand went into this game expecting to win, as recent form under the stewardship of Simon "Larry" Grayson has catapulted them into the hunt after starting the season with six losses from eight games.
The star of the game was undoubtedly Tom Barkhuzien, whose name the PNE faithful struggled with and still do! He ran riot against the Royals, badly missing Liam Moore at centre-back, and against a woeful Tyler Blackett who is a shadow of the player who won the TTE player of the month for February.
Still, with nine games to go the destiny remains in Reading's hand and starting with the Owls on Friday, we have to start picking up points from our promotion rivals, or basically we can kiss any dream of a May trip to Wembley bye bye.
So onto the reaction from the game and it’s the PNE faithful who are more than happy – despite a surprisingly low crowd.
#Preston home league form:— Goodbrand Stats (@StatsChristian) March 12, 2017
4️⃣ consecutive wins.
1️⃣ defeat in 1️⃣1️⃣.
1️⃣0️⃣ wins in 1️⃣6️⃣.
Fortress Deepdale #pnefc #PNE pic.twitter.com/oCc14kMbAZ
All I can say is it's a top tackle from GMac
What a run from @tombarkhuizen9 - #pnefc: pic.twitter.com/0rGDpQknTo— PNEPhotos (@PNEPhotos) March 11, 2017
Even the Police are in on it (@ThamesVP you could join in!)
Great result for #pnefc playoffs anyone? #believe— PNE Police (@PNEPolice) March 11, 2017
As understatements go.....
Championship play-off race just got interesting... #ffc #swfc #readingfc #pne— Joe Chapman (@ChapmanJ92) March 11, 2017
For once it's not Stam
Please Norwich, go get Simon Grayson. He's got every club he worked at promoted and he's doing a great job now at Preston #pnefc #ncfc— Ryan ✘ (@Mick_Kraut) March 14, 2017
Symptomatic across football
Why on earth is Preston's crowd so low? They are playing great football. #pnefc pic.twitter.com/TjSWJX7Ibe— MrAstonVilla (@villa1st) March 12, 2017
Engage brain before tweeting.....
Face palm. #pnefc https://t.co/ieAEv15REp— PNE Fans Forum (@PNEFansForum) March 12, 2017
Can't beat local rivalry!
If #PNEFC beat the plastics next week we will be 21 points ahead of them! #plastics #brfc pic.twitter.com/1yG7T40Mc8— John (@catterallwhite) March 11, 2017
Given that Newcastle were surprisingly hammered at home by Fulham, it is slightly understandable that there isn't much coverage of the Preston vs Reading game, although we did get prime position on the Channel 5 highlights.
What coverage there is isn't wonderful, and Talksport once again prove that unless you’re in the Premier League then they really aren't interested, with minimal coverage across the whole league.
The Daily Express have decided that they've had enough of actual coverage of the game, so look at stats, and we do have five players in the top passing percentages, and Yann is the eighth dirtiest player in the league.
Anyway enough of that and back to the footie. On the local reporting side, the Lancashire Evening Post is understandably quite happy with the result, calling it a comfortable victory and that Reading were always second best. I do love watching the video reports, and if I'm being cruel, I reckon they grabbed this guy from the crowd!
Now then, over at GetReading it’s a different story. Jonathan Low is right in saying that we fell apart and crashed against PNE, and there’s also his video report of the game.
Onto the Nationals, and the BBC mention we could have had a penalty (from my viewpoint a certain one, and don’t get me started with the handball for the second goal!) and that the Royals are looking slightly nervously over their shoulder. They also go onto to say that this is the first time we have lost three successive away games under Stam.
As usual, Sky Sports have the video highlights, and this week it’s 1 minute 43 seconds long as they report that we were rattled by the goals after controlling the first 30 minutes, and go onto say that in the end Preston ran out comfortable winners.
We now have another tricky away game at Sheffield Wednesday. We have to get something out of this game because as of the time of writing, Fulham are playing Blackburn, and we need Rovers to help us here.
Any more slip-ups then what looked like a cert for the playoffs, will easily turn into a nail biting run to get into them. But whatever happens from this point on, we need to support the team and give all we can to ensure that we give ourselves every chance. Either way this season has been a blessed relief from the last two and I would rather the disappointment of potentially missing out of the playoffs than the nervousness of staying up!
I will be back next week to see what our opposition thinks of us after the weekend’s games! (and promise not to go ranting on BBC Berkshire after the game this week!)