After a very difficult couple of games and results against Leeds United and Brentford, Saturday marked the beginning of a run of games in which Reading will really fancy themselves to get results - and they started that run of games very well.
The first half was flat, sloppy and poor from Mark Bowen’s men and probably left a lot of Reading fans feeling like another loss was on its way as we found ourselves 1-0 down at half time and not looking like scoring.
Step forward George Puscas.
The Romanian International showed everyone in the second half just why Reading spent the big bucks on him and just what he can offer us when he’s in full flow. It was a destructive five minutes from Puscas, which saw him net a brilliant hat-trick and win the game for the Royals.
Hopefully this is the game that will really kickstart his season as if he is on this kind of form throughout the rest of the season, we have a serious striker on our hands and a player who can win games for us in an instant.
Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points to come from the came, which obviously includes their utter delight for Puscas...
No Ejaria or Swift
The day didn’t get off to the greatest of starts for the Reading fans as, come 2pm on Saturday afternoon when the team news was released, both of Reading’s key men - Ovie Ejaria and John Swift - were nowhere to be seen on the teamsheet.
It would later be revealed that Ovie missed out due to illness so *should* be back in time for next weekend against Birmingham City but John Swift will be out for the next 3-4 weeks which is a huge blow for Bowen and his team.
The fans certainly didn’t respond well to this news, and you can hardly blame them as both Ejaria and Swift have been the two standout players for us all season, let’s just hope their absence is any longer than it should be...
Reading playing exactly the way you'd expect without Swift or Ejaria #readingfc— Parking the Bus (@Parking_the_Bus) November 30, 2019
This was always going to happen without Swift and Ejaria, we have zero creativity without them. They are the difference between staying up comfortably or being in a relegation scrap. #readingfc— Nath St Paul (@NathStPaul) November 30, 2019
Take a draw right now with both swift and Ejaria out today #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) November 30, 2019
No Ejaria— Micah (@micahrfc19) November 30, 2019
McCleary, Pele and Puscas starting. What a mess#readingfc
Ejaria and swift both out ill... when’s the next train back to Reading anyone? #readingfc— Trenchcoat (@Adamhumphries44) November 30, 2019
This is what he can do - and this is why both Gomes and Bowen have stuck with him throughout his tough start to the season.
A ruthless penalty, a turn and finish that prime Didier Drogba would’ve been proud of and an ice-cold left footed finish made up a truly sensational hat-trick and a whirlwind five minutes for the former Inter Milan Striker.
He has been guilty of missing a lot of chances since joining in the summer, but give him time and this lad will be a serious centre-forward for us. Hopefully this is just the beginning of what he can offer us going forward.
Understandably so, Puscas left the fans purring on Twitter after the game...
So pleased for Puscas! I've felt so sorry for him cause you know he has the potential but his confidence was obviously very low. Hopefully this is the boost he needs! #readingfc— Holly Dawson (@_HollyDawson) November 30, 2019
Watching Puscas walk around the pitch with the ball under his arm, his teammates hugging and congratulating him and with a huge smile in his face is a thing of beauty. What a hat trick! #URZ #ReadingFC— Jatt (@JatthewMenkins) November 30, 2019
Its going to take a long time for feeling to come back into my feet but it's absolutely fine when you've just seen George Puscas score a 5 minute hat trick much better second half! #readingfc— Becki White (@MissBeckaEllen) November 30, 2019
Yes Puscas, that's what we've been waiting for! 5 min hat trick big win! #readingfc— Melvir (@Melvir88) November 30, 2019
Huge win for us today, especially without Swift and Ejaria. Maybe this afternoon is the real arrival of Pușcaș, I hope those goals today will be the catalyst that takes him to the levels we know he can get to #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) November 30, 2019
Praise for Bowen
For so often we have a lacked a Plan B in games, meaning that it’s been so hard for us to get back into games trying to persevere with a failing formula - Bowen changed that on Saturday afternoon.
When it wasn’t going our way, Bowen sacrificed Michael Morrison for Lucas Joao, sending the Portuguese upfront with Puscas and moving Boye and McCleary out wide into a 4-4-2 - and it worked an absolute treat.
With Ejaria hopefully back in contention next weekend, whether or not Bowen sticks with the 3-5-2 or starts with the 4-4-2 against Birmingham City remains to be seen but at least now we might have the makings of a Plan B.
The fans were impressed with Bowen’s substitutions and tactical tweaks which went a long way to securing a crucial three points...
Bowen doesn’t have a one-dimensional “philosophy.” He will mix it up and unpredictability is key in football. And he will change things. He is getting the best out of a squad capable of a midtable finish.— Ian Davies (@Ian_Davies_) December 1, 2019
If Gomes still here we would’ve gone on to lose that 3-0. Bowen’s changes didn’t work on Saturday but certainly worked today. Fair play to him. #readingfc— (@steel_beake) November 30, 2019
Fair play to Bowen. Made the right substitutions today. João and Boyé in particular seemed to have made a difference after coming on. #readingfc— Ben (@BenParsons89) November 30, 2019
Get in Puscas!!!!! This will give him a huge boost.— Nath St Paul (@NathStPaul) November 30, 2019
Winning when playing terribly is the sign of a decent team. Credit to Bowen where it's due for the substitutions. #readingfc
Glad Bowen didn’t hear me say it was time for Puscas to be dropped. #readingfc— Russell (@russell1871) November 30, 2019
Bowen changes to 4-3-3 on 60 mins won us this game ... fair play gaffer #readingfc— Brad Ray (@BradSRay) November 30, 2019
A big, big win for us at the start of a vital run of games coming up for the Royals - all of which the team and Bowen will be feeling confident of getting a result in.
Hopefully Puscas will carry on this form, Ejaria will be back and the lads will be playing in front of a rocking Mad Stad next weekend against Birmingham City.