In the second of three matches that will pretty much define Reading’s season, the Royals travelled to Portman Road, backed by an army of Reading fans that made the trip with some pretty horrendous travel arrangements.
Editor’s note: getting the Central Line out to Newbury Park, changing onto a rail replacement bus, then an hour-long train from Ingatestone to Ipswich, wasn’t particularly fun.
After Nelson Oliveira’s strike in the first half, the customary Oh My God moment happened on the 81st minute with Ipswich Town equalising. Now, the week before when this happened, Reading spurned the opportunity to take the three points with some difficult but not impossible chances to get the win. This time the much-maligned Modou Barrow, who let’s face it hasn’t had the best of seasons, smashed home a winner with only a few minutes remaining.
With the drop to League One pretty certain with a loss, the Tractor Boys’ fans were pretty philosophical after the game. When doing this column I look at hundreds if not thousands of tweets from opposing fans, and I cannot recall a time when doing this, that a team in this position still pretty much backs the manager. The board on the other hand - Marcus Evans in particular - probably won’t be getting many Christmas cards from the fan base.
I also could have pretty much made a column on the rivalry between Ipswich and Norwich City, with the latter needing no invitation to fervidly put the boot into their East Anglian neighbours.
Of course, Oliveira’s opening goal and his celebration drew some interesting comments from both Norwich and Ipswich fans alike, and mild amusement from the Royals faithful. Still, with defending like that, it’s hard to not have a slight chuckle.
That is pretty impressive
Probability of relegation now 99.9%. For a 50% chance of staying up we'll need 44 points (W7 D2 L2). For a 95% chance, 47 (W8 D2 L1).— IpswichTownLive! (@ITFC_live) March 4, 2019
Nice to see we could still finish 15th though, according to the computer. #itfc pic.twitter.com/Ne9PelliVs
Gotta love a local rivalry
Well... maybe not everyone likes Paul Lambert
Becoming tired of the same excuses from Lambert, regularly saying ‘we’ve played really well’ does he think we’re all stupid?? You simply do not play well and find yourselves 12 points from safety and some very suspect signings aswell #itfc— Andy Grey (@andygreyitfc) March 3, 2019
Always try to be positive!
Dropping into L1 with small crowds and total apathy or decent crowds, noise and positivity. I know which I choose and I know what will help our club. Let’s carry on turning negative into positive. I look forward to seeing this great club of ours getting back on its feet. #itfc— Nathan White (@nathanwhite78) March 3, 2019
Although it seems Lambert has some support
Hard waking up to the realisation that L1 is definite. Never been more behind the team than now, and I'm with Lambert when he said "when it turns, and it will turn....you'll see". A quiet momentum is building in the dark and I'm the most negative fan going #ITFC— Craig Ablitt (@crablitt81) March 3, 2019
Good old-fashioned playground defending by swarming the ball. Oops, who’s got no. 22?
This defending from #ITFC today was terrible. Play three at the back and they all run to the ball! What exactly is going on during training in the week? Not to mention playing a midfielder as a striker when a strikers sat on the bench. A truly poor day. pic.twitter.com/CM42O2wIue— Martin Coad (@MartinCoad86) March 2, 2019
As Arthur Daley once said. To appreciate the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain. #itfc— Greyhound Ipswich (@TheGreyhoundIps) March 2, 2019
Remember how you felt today, hurt,angry and upset. Because when the good times return you’ll enjoy it more. #itfc.— Greyhound Ipswich (@TheGreyhoundIps) March 2, 2019
Yeah well, the least said about the media this week the better. A battle between two teams at the foot of the table is never going to get the column inches that we would all like.
However, what there is is pretty good. Sky Sports dish up their usual highlights package, a whopping 2 minutes 57 seconds this week, looking at the chances Ipswich made, so in reality we did well to come away with the win. The footage is basically a shop window for Emiliano Martinez who shows his Premier League pedigree with a masterclass in shot stopping. The report they have is factual, highlighting the barracking that Oliveira got from the home support.
The BBC reckon the result was harsh on Ipswich, and also showcase Martinez’s show-stopping display.
Down at the local outlets and the Reading Chronicle have a decent report, stating that Reading had a decent first half, riding out the Ipswich storm in the second before nicking it in the 90th minute.
From the Ipswich point of view, the East Anglian Times call it heartbreak for Ipswich as they were beat by “lowly” (who’s bottom of the league?) Reading. They make the point that this defeat wasn’t due to a lack of effort, but the heroics of Martinez and their own profligacy in front of goal. They also say that Oliveira played the pantomime villain excellently throughout the game.
Back to Reading coverage and Jonathan Low at Football.London has a review of the game, plus a focus on elements of the game, where he highlights spirit, guts, desire and passion. These four elements will be crucial in the coming weeks and it’s excellent to see a Reading side that has discovered these.
Finally, I couldn’t resist putting a piece from Norwich in, with the Pink Un claiming that Agent Oliveira did the job in scoring against Ipswich and celebrating in front of the Tractor Boys fans…
We are two games into a run that will shape our destiny. With the win at Ipswich and a mix of other results, Rotherham and Reading have been able to pull Millwall and Wigan Athletic into the mix.
If we thought the last two games were big then Saturday’s match against Wigan is truly massive. Win and we can leapfrog Wigan. Lose and it’s probably really between us and Rotherham for the bottom three.
Jon Low summed it up nicely in his report when he said spirit, guts, desire and passion are things we’re going to need in buckets. After the Rotherham game and spurning the opportunities we had to win, I wouldn’t have been shocked to see a similar thing happen at Ipswich. However, it seems like the squad have learned their lesson, and the outpouring of emotion from Liam Moore at the end was joyous to see.
It might have taken 35 games, but this Reading side is starting to tick (at times!). Even against Rotherham there were great moves being put on, and Ovie Ejaria’s goal would still be being repeated now if it had been scored by Barcelona. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we will march up the league and next year win it, what I’m saying is that the Gomes effect is starting to take shape.
If we do stay up then in the off-season will be interesting to see who Gomes moves on and who stays. It is great in the meantime though to see some players getting form back. While all the noise has been around the loan signings, who have been excellent, it’s still good to see some of the older established players starting to click. Garath McCleary is one of them - while he’s not at his swashbuckling best, he has still created two assists recently and looked dangerous.
We play Wigan on Saturday and this game is huge. It’s imperative that we all get behind the team and play our part, with hope that the season can go out with a whimper rather than the agony of waiting for the last game of the season!