Jose Gomes made 10 changes to the team that fell to defeat against Blackburn Rovers on the weekend for the trip to Molineux, as he came up against his compatriot Nuno Espirito Santo. And the changes worked as the performance levels shot up from Saturday’s poor showing.
One thing that got the fans talking was the fact that Yakou Meite skippered the team for the first time in the absence of Liam Moore, with the gaffer interestingly stating that the Ivorian is part of a ‘players committee’ after the game.
A huge Joao Virginia error allowed Wolves to go into half time 1-0 up before the Royals fought back - after the introduction of main men Ovie Ejaria, John Swift and George Puscas - to claim a dramatic last-gasp equaliser deep into added time. Of course, we went on to crash out on penalties, but there were a lot of positives to take from the game - and a lot of things that got the fans talking on Twitter...
Let’s start with the obvious one, shall we? Virginia has had more than his fair share of criticism since he became Reading’s first signing of the summer, and it got even worse on Wednesday night for the Everton loanee.
Midway through the first half, Bruno Jordao picked the ball up outside the area and decided to let fly with a tame effort towards Virginia’s goal. However, it somehow squirmed its way through his gloves and into the net. It was a moment that really isn’t going to do the youngster’s confidence any good going forward - especially as I felt he had a pretty solid game apart from his blunder.
The fans were, quite rightly, left frustrated and upset at the mistake. On a sidenote, however, we need to remember that this is Virginia’s first season in professional football. No player ever makes mistakes on purpose and, at the end of the day, he’s still a human like anybody else...
That goal has done Virginia absolutely no favours #Readingfc— Dave McCormack (@davemc_exile) September 25, 2019
As a goalkeeper I’m always desperate to defend ‘keepers, but Virginia’s consistent blunders are pushing him further and further down the pecking order. He may be young, but right now he’s just not ready for minutes with #ReadingFC— Jessica (@JessTalksFootie) September 25, 2019
Virginia confidence is absolutely shot... worse part is you could sense it coming pre game... why did Gomes play him... shocking decision #readingfc— Kyle Seymour (@kylest200) September 25, 2019
#readingfc Virginia doesn’t deserve the stick he’s getting, the blame lies with his selection in the first place. It’s clear to all and sundry he’s not ready. Personally I’d have played Rafael who needs as much game time as possible to get up to speed in English game. 1/2— Paul Hunsdon (@Hunsy1969) September 25, 2019
The less said about Virginia the better. Shouldn’t have started in my opinion, especially after clangers earlier this season. Pointless loan spell for both parties. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) September 25, 2019
How are people declaring Virginia awful, terrible, worst keeper they've ever seen at Reading blah blah blah. The amount of nonsense some of you chat is unbelievable. He's literally a kid playing his first senior football. Keepers mature late. #readingfc— Imran Escőbar (@razor5edge) September 25, 2019
People defending virginia, fair enough, but this isnt the first time hes made a huge mistake, seems to happen every game and its costing us, dropped a point against hull because of him and now out of the cup too #readingfc— Dan Bradley (@DanBradley10) September 26, 2019
From the ugly to the downright beautiful. We’ve seen moments of magic from Swift more and more regularly in recent times: the pass to set Modou Barrow away at home to Preston North End last season, the free-kick against Wigan Athetlic and the assist for Nelson Oliveira’s winner against Blackburn Rovers all spring to mind. But this, this tops the lot of them.
It’s the 99th minute, the very last attack and very last chance to keep us in the Carabao Cup - Swifty turns his man inside out and unleashes the most elegant ‘Rabona’ cross right onto the forehead of Lucas Boye to send the travelling contingent into pandemonium.
When this kid is on top form, there aren’t many better at this level. It was a moment that had - and probably still has - the fans going crazy on social media...
Swift showing again why he’s our most valuable asset, no player like him in the league on his day #readingfc— Reading Talk (@RoyalReading106) September 25, 2019
John Swift with a 99th minute rabona assist... you love to see it #readingfc— Alex Dow (@AlexDow9) September 25, 2019
Wow, that Lucas Boye goal has to be one of the best #readingfc goal I’ve seen live ever. Rabona assist from Swift + 99th minute limbs! Worth the 7 hour round trip— Shengzhi Sun (@ShengzhiSun01) September 26, 2019
Swift is the best am in the championship don’t @ me #readingfc— Shane (@Shane1871_) September 26, 2019
Despite ultimately losing on penalties, Gomes’ team gave the fans more than enough to get excited about regarding their performance, fight and character to get back into the game and keep going until the very end.
In truth, Wolves very rarely threatened Virginia’s goal, especially in the second half as Reading dominated possession and pretty much had the Premier League side camped in their own half.
It was just the final touch, pass or shot that was lacking for the Royals for the majority of the game. But, on the whole, it was a performance that pleased the Reading fanbase, and gave them a lot to be positive and optimistic about as we move into the future...
1-1 considering the goal we conceded is good work imo against a strong team #ReadingFC— vitooo (@v1to__) September 25, 2019
A positive to take from today’s match is the players do not give up and have good fighting spirit #readingfc— Matt Bell (@mattbell40) September 25, 2019
If we had a keeper that could actually save a shot instead of one who couldn’t even catch a cold, then we would be through tonight. Still 10 changes made to the team, and good fighting spirit shown to score in 99th minute. Let’s take that into Saturday against Swansea #readingfc— James East (@JamesEast16) September 25, 2019
Gutting that. Ejaria and Swift changed the game as expected. Boye deserves his goal on the night and has surely given himself a good chance of a place in the squad on Saturday. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) September 25, 2019
All in all, Gomes will look back on Wednesday night as a valubale experience for both himself and his squad. He explained after the game that he found out that he can now rely on the players that started against Wolves and, on the most part, you’d have to agree with him.
Despite the penalty shootout loss, the players are bound to take confidence into Saturday’s clash with Swansea City - so make sure you get across the M4 and to the Liberty Stadium to back the lads.