A fantastic performance and result to cap off a very good March - happy days. The Royals were excellent on Saturday afternoon against an inform Preston side that had been unbeaten in 12 before visiting the Mad Stad.
In the first half particularly, we looked nowhere near a side battling for survival. Mo Barrow and Yakou Meite caused havoc upfront, whilst John Swift, Lewis Baker, Ovie Ejaria and the returning Andy Rinomhota dominated the midfield.
Two goals in quick succession were enough in the end for the three points, and it was no less than we deserved. In the second half, our game management was very impressive as we saw off any real threat that Preston managed to create.
It’s a win that has put a bit of daylight between ourselves and Rotherham, with the Millers having an inferior goal difference. Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points from a great afternoon in Berkshire...
The team news
Everyone was aware of Nelson Oliveira’s trip to China during the international break, but no one knew just how good this doctor was - now we definitely do.
After injuring his hamstring against Ipswich at the start of March, and looking like he’d be out for 10 weeks, somehow Nelson made it onto the bench.
Just to make things even better, Andy Rinomhota also made his long overdue return from injury - and boy, we have missed him. The academy graduate was at his typically brilliant best all afternoon and added bite to the midfield that’s been missing ever since he got injured.
On social media, there was a combination of delight, relief and complete and utter shock in reaction to the team news...
Oliveira was ruled out for the rest of the season but he has defied all the odds and returned. Incredible determination from Oliveira but hats off to Eduardo Santos, who has made him fit. @eduphysio you're a legend. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) March 30, 2019
The first goal
It was simply a thing of beauty. We could never have dreamt of scoring a goal like that under Paul Clement.
The pass from Swift is one that Lionel Messi would have been proud of, there’s the searing pace from Barrow to get in behind his man and then the pure desire from Meite to get on the end of the cross to slam it home - just a brilliant goal.
It was a goal that I’m sure Jose Gomes would’ve dreamt about on Friday night, and I’m sure some Reading fans were doing the same on Saturday night.
A goal that sums up everything that Gomes has done for our club - increased the quality and created a group of players that will do anything for the shirt - a team we can be proud of again.
The first goal understandably got a lot of plaudits on Twitter after the game...
#readingfc pass of the season from Swift to set up Barrow for the cross and opening goal.— Steve Double (@Steve1871) March 30, 2019
That key pass from Swift for the opening goal deserves a GIF of it's own. Utter FILTH. Sublime. #readingfc— mostlybobbins (@mostlybobbins) March 30, 2019
Bar the late consolation goal for the visitors, it was pretty much a near perfect performance from Gomes’ men. The quality in the first half was not that of a team in a relegation scrap, and the defending and game management in the second was very impressive.
Let’s not forget the opposition as well. Preston were a team who had won their last six away matches during a 12 game unbeaten run - the longest in the league.
The defence did their job brilliantly, Rinomhota and Baker dominated the midfield battle and our attacking players caused problems throughout. An extremely enjoyable afternoon.
Obviously the fans were ecstatic after the game and took to Twitter to display this...
Brilliant performance, result well deserved. Up the reading #ReadingFC— Bobby Gray (@Bishbashbobs) March 30, 2019
Great performance from the lads today. Andy R, Ejaria, Baker and Swift superb in the middle of the park. #readingfc— Rob Molloy (@Dobcheck73) March 30, 2019
First half performance today was one of the best I've seen in a long time. We completely outplayed Preston. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) March 30, 2019
Miazga absolute class today. Big performance from the team. Think the result didn't really justify our dominance, but massive win!!! On to Hull!!! #readingfc ⚪ ⚪ ⚪— Shaun Berry (@sbezzzab1871) March 30, 2019
Thought today we stared well but felt like a more consistent performance overall against a good PNE side. #ReadingFC ⚪️ ⚪️— Paul Stacey (@pstacey11) March 30, 2019
What a win that was. Best performance I’ve seen from us in a very very long time #readingfc— Cam Baker (@cambaker96) March 30, 2019
A fantastic overall performance and a vital three points. Andy Rinomhota is back in the team, Nelson Oliveira is somehow back from injury and the feel good factor is back at the club. What a day.
The connection between the fans and the club is back and better than ever. Jose Gomes is working wonders, and long may it continue.