Cast your minds back to April 9 2011 (I know, it seems like a lot longer than eight and a half years ago) and a trip north to the East Midlands as play-off pushing Reading visited one of their top-six rivals in Nottingham Forest.
Obviously, we all know that this season ended in utter heartbreak at Wembley Stadium - I still have nightmares about Jem Karacan hitting the post and *that* Garry Monk block to this day - but this game was not only one of the standout moments of that season, but in my opinion, the whole decade.
The first thing that should come to mind when this game is mentioned is a trademark Ian Harte free-kick off his absolute wand of a left foot that sent Brian McDermott’s men into an early lead (surely up there as one of the goals of the decade?). Reading then found themselves in a bit of bother, as a Kris Boyd penalty and then a Robert Earnshaw goal put the hosts 2-1 up just after half-time.
Step forward Jem Karacan. How on earth did he manage to score that header? Outswinging corner, leaning backwards, virtually on the edge of the box and somehow he managed to plant it in the top corner - oh how we miss him.
Talking of players we all miss, Jimmy Kebe then restored the lead for the Royals with an emphatic finish from a corner and then proceeded to rip his shirt off, running right towards the packed-out away end in the process. What a moment, and one that summed up the team spirit and cohesion that batch of players had in abundance - what we’d give for a bit of that now.
As we began to sit back and hold on, Forest were given another penalty in the 88th minute which Lewis McGugan calmly slotted home and it looked like Reading were heading home with a point. But they didn’t.
In the dying embers, Jem Karacan whipped a quick free kick down the line for Long to chase and send in a cross for super-sub Simon Church to squeeze past the ever-annoying Lee Camp. Even though the record books have it down as a Chambers ‘OG, I’m still adamant to this day that the goal is Church’s - it just sounds better, doesn’t it?
Reading travelled back to Berkshire with all three points from a truly stunning game of football and one that summed up everything we loved about that squad and that manager. I was still in the relative infancy of my Reading fan career as a 12 year old - but I just remember getting the short train back to my gran’s in Loughborough and knowing that if I hadn’t already, I had just fallen in love with a football club for the rest of my life.