We knew that Jose Gomes was probably going to bring in some fresh legs for the trip down to Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday night to rest some of the key players before the league game against Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
However, not many would’ve expected him to make 11 changes and field eight academy products - including a debut for Akin Odimayo, the 53rd academy player to make the step up to the first team - and an appearance for Jordan Obita!
After going behind twice, the youngsters showed a huge amount of grit and determination to come back and win the tie 4-2 - continuing the positive momentum that the squad carried into the game from the recent league form.
The result and performance is a huge testament to the strength of our academy and the squad depth we now have, which is a vital for any team if they’re are to have a successful season. Gomes learned on Tuesday that he now has a big number of players he can rely on - which must be a good feeling.
Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points...
After nearly two years out, Jordan Obita made his long-awaited return on Tuesday night as he played the full 90 minutes, and was also given the armband from Gomes. The Loyal Royals have been waiting for this moment for a very, very long time. The academy graduate was a key player for us before his horrific knee injury against Hull City back in September 2017 - but now he’s back, and it’s a wonderful sight.
The fans were absolutely over the moon to see Obita back in the first team, and are eager to see what he can do in the coming weeks and months. However, he won’t have it easy as Omar Richards has made an impressive start to the season at left wing back.
The fans took to Twitter to show their joy at seeing Jordan back in the starting eleven, a feeling of joy that i’m sure was shared amongst the vast majority of the fanbase...
Captain Obita— Josh (@rfcjoshe) August 27, 2019
Jordan Obita in the starting lineup tonight for the first time in nearly two years #readingfc— Rob Knight (@robknight95) August 27, 2019
After 2 years out, it's absolutely fantastic to see Obita back. Must have been such a tough few years for him, let's all give him the welcome back he deserves. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) August 27, 2019
Josh Barrett’s goals
Barrett had a solid pre-season, and has been an unfortunate victim of the late flurry of transfer activity in the summer. But on Tuesday night he got another chance to prove his worth - and boy did he take it.
Two fantastic goals, the second being particularly impressive, would have surely impressed Gomes and yet again proved that he can be relied on by the manager. The first was a fantastic solo goal, charging into the area before powerfully finding the bottom corner. The second was just wonderful. A world-class finish from the edge of the area, a goal that the fans seriously enjoyed.
It’s obvious to see that Barrett has an eye for the spectacular - with his preseason goal against Chelsea, and now the brace against Plymouth. And if there’s one thing that the fans love, it’s a player that can get you off your feet...
You tell Barrett is desperate to make his mark in the first team, looked sharp today and 2 excellent goals #readingfc— Luke (@lukewescott_) August 27, 2019
What a cracking goal by josh Barrett last night #readingfc— Ian Kirkpatrick (@IanKirk27722033) August 28, 2019
Games like this are great for players like Josh Barrett, really decent goal that. #readingfc— Nath St Paul (@NathStPaul) August 27, 2019
Gomes must have a headache about getting Barrett into that side on Saturday. #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) August 27, 2019
It’s fair to say that the former PSG man has had a rough couple of weeks. Firstly, the penalty miss against Cardiff City which then lead to some inexcusable racist abuse and then he suffered an injury which has forced him out of the last two league games.
But Meite reacted on Tuesday night with a typical powerful performance, for which he was deservedly rewarded with two late goals. You can see just how much that penalty meant to him from his celebrations; redemption is sweet and he must’ve felt on top of the world when it nestled in the back of the net.
Meite’s footballing ability certainly splits opinion, but he will never give less than his maximum and will leave everything out on the pitch. Because of that, the fans love him - and they showed that love yet again. Firstly with the celebrations of his goals, and then on Twitter after the game...
Huge respect for him stepping up and scoring after missing against Cardiff. Buzzing for him— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) August 27, 2019
Seeing Yakou Meite celebrate in the crowd after scoring his penalty is quite possibly one of my favourite things ever..#readingfc— Ben Honeywill (@HONEYWILL11RFC) August 27, 2019
Yakou Meite winning and scoring a penalty - weeks after being racially abused for missing one - is such a fine example of football’s love affair with narrative.— Greg Double (@Dubstep1988) August 27, 2019
...Two goals from an academy baller and another one for Yaks is just showing off. #readingfc https://t.co/kYOFZSGMRH
Meite and the rest of the team jumping straight into the crowd is the exact reason you travel 4 hours to Plymouth on a Tuesday night #readingfc— Micah (@micahrfc19) August 27, 2019
Another great result for the Royals, and a result which keeps the winning feeling around the club and around the squad - which is priceless.
Unbeaten Charlton come to town on Saturday, so make sure you’re down at the Mad Stad to get right behind the lads - and hopefully take this unbeaten run into the international break.