I'd been looking forward to the last game of the season for a while. There's just always something seriously funny about seeing the shocked look on someone's face when they're caught off guard by a flying inflatable banana.
It's always good fun, and can sometimes take a little bit of the pain away from a bad season. It was also lovely to see a sizeable amount of people wearing some kind of orange attire to recognise the fantastic work Jaap Stam and his fellow Dutch nationals have done for Reading this season.
This season's inflatables day was slightly different. I remember back to Blackburn away at the end of last season and losing 3-1 on a very miserable day whilst listening to nothing but 'VENKYS OUT' and thinking how glad I was for that season to be over. This season rather, everything had been decided apart from who we were to face in the play offs. It was a nice feeling going to a game where the pressure was off, but we've still got so much more excitement to come (hopefully).
Twelve months on and it's an entirely different story. For weeks my stomach has been doing knots at the thought of the play offs; the thought of the all the emotion, adrenaline and potential heartbreak is just something that is too much to take. However, at the full time whistle something inside my gut suddenly changed. Maybe it's because I've now finally accepted we've got to go through with it, but I'm now ridiculously excited for the playoffs, and I 100% believe we deserve it.
The game could've been played like an exhibition match by both sides. Burton Albion have had a great season to stay in the Championship and Nigel Clough has done incredibly well with the resources he's got. However, both teams looked like they wanted to go out on a high and both had attacking spells within the game.
Reading appeared to be comfortable when they were leading 3-0, however, Burton threatened a bit of a come back after scoring two goals in three minutes. However, Lewis Grabban steadied the ship and made it 4-2.
To see Paul McShane and Joey Van Den Berg back from injury and both play a half each, as well as seeing Tiago Illori play a full 90 minutes was definitely a positive boost before those two massive games against Fulham. Illori is just one cool player, who seems to be able to lap up any kind of pressure that his thrown his way.
I said on last week’s podcast that the play offs are essentially a clean slate. Regardless of what results have happened throughout the season against your opponent, it has very little significance over that two legged semi final. However, it's great to go into them with a win, especially as we scored four goals in a match for the first time this season.
What a fantastic season it's been. Even if the play offs don't go quite to plan, we can't forget how far we've come as a team and a club. I'm passionate about Reading, always, but it's the first time in a few seasons where I've felt proud of our attempts in the league. It may not have been the most entertaining football at times, but we've done the job; we've finished third, and that's one hell of an achievement.