Reading have been on a fairly decent run in all honesty, and with draws against decent Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday sides they came in to the game against Blackburn Rovers with a bit of optimism. The contest itself was largely a bore fest in the first half, but the second half proved to be a much livelier encounter with both teams going at it.
After missing the match against Wednesday, Oliveira showed exactly why Reading have been chasing him for the past couple of seasons, with an outstanding performance including a 40-yard chip shot that just missed, and the brilliant finish for his goal.
Rovers on the other hand started 2019 in good nick and had an excellent January, but their form has dropped in recent weeks with the defeat on Wednesday making it three on the bounce. Truth be told, they should be safe and are heading for mid-table obscurity, which Reading fans would probably take willingly, and for a team that got promoted last year, that’s pretty much the best Rovers could hope for.
The Blackburn fans on the whole seem to be fairly content with their performance this season. However, recruitment seems to have been a contentious bone, with a number questioning the £7m they spent on Brereton which has the hallmarks of our thoughts on Sone Aluko….
A... football... fan... with... realism...
What did #Rovers fans think was gonna happen this season? Promotion? Playoffs? Get real, mid table and not getting relegated are decent aims to have. Then build on top of that, we were L1 last season.— Dan Martin (@danny_bhoy88) February 14, 2019
£7m eh? We know that feeling
And the flip side
Definite improved performance from Ben tonight; he was far from the worst Rovers player out there. He took up good positions and didn't let his head drop when things didn't go his way #Rovers— kevin ennis (@kevinennis1) February 13, 2019
And another one!
Have people already forgotten we won all of our league games in January?— Callum Prescott (@callumprescott0) February 13, 2019
I'm not sure about anyone else but my pre-season expectations were simply to stay up.
We're 15 points clear of the drop with only 14 games left.
If a mid-table finish isn't acceptable, what is?#rovers
Useless team? Who won?
Typical rovers go on a winning streak to then go lose 3 on the bounce one being to such a useless team in the relegation zone, seriously and fans still hype us up #rovers— Callum Atkins (@CallumAtkins94) February 13, 2019
Ah, another fan thinking they watch Barca
Despite losing (and it was painful to watch!!) all I can say is thank God we don't play like Reading each week. They were abysmal. Fair play to them getting the win but we should really take a long hard look at ourselves. #Rovers— TimDYo (@TimDYo) February 13, 2019
A quick whizz around the media scene shows that only really the Mail picked up the game from the nationals with any enthusiasm. Quite rightly they say that Rovers dominated the first half, with Reading scoring against the run of play, but in the second half Reading came out a much better side. They make a point of Nelson Oliveira’s attempt from 35 yards (at least 40 I’d say - by the end of this column it will be the halfway line!) and that he scored the winner with a fierce shot.
BT Sport have an abridged version of the same article, with both of them saying Rovers squandered numerous opportunities. It’s looking like there was only one reporter at the game yesterday with Sky also carrying a similar story, but they do have 2m18s of coverage, including John Swift’s superb pass to set up Oliveira. The BBC have been their usual self, but I’ll give them credit as it’s better than the normal dross they serve up.
Over to the local reports to get a bit more of a biased view, and the Lancashire Telegraph say Rovers dominated the game in a very flat atmosphere, and Reading missed two excellent chances via Yakou Meite to close the game out.
Football.London is all about Oliveira, running the headline “Cometh the hour, cometh the man” and it’s interesting to read their verdict on the game and the player ratings. Anthony Smith over at the Reading Chronicle also has a large report of the game, also mentioning the penalty shout when Bradley Dack theatrically threw himself to the floor.
Truth be told I am a lot happier than I was before Christmas. The first-half performance wasn’t great with only Oliveira being the bright point. Swift continues to be one of those players that, for 40 minutes you’re left wondering how he gets in the team, but then produces a goal and a cracking assist. The question now becomes this: how the hell do we get him to perform for the full 90?
Kudos though to the defence. Currently the back five are working well as a decent unit - Matt Miazga has come into this team and for me isn’t getting the coverage that Oliveira/Martinez does or even mentioned as much as Lewis Baker or Ovie Ejaria (who was pretty much woeful).
However, I do believe that currently he is performing as well as any of the loan signings, and indeed the team. He’s walked into the side and dominated the defence, forging a good understanding with Moore and he does not look out of place. We all thought letting Tiago Ilori go was a questionable decision, but bringing the young American in has been a masterstroke by Gomes, and wouldn’t it be lovely if we could sign Oliveira, Miazga and Martinez on full-time deals in the summer! That would make a huge difference.
On to Sheffield United on Saturday, and that’s one game I am actually looking forward to going to. OK so there will be the annual Billy Sharp goal against us, but I think we may be able to get something. A point from this game would be amazing, let alone three, but saying that I have just put the kiss of death on our defence so God knows what the score will be!