A game that truly summed up everything that Mark Bowen has instilled since becoming manager: fight, desire and spirit, even when all looks lost. A moment that the fans will remember for a very, very long time and rightly so.
In the first half, the players certainly showed that it was the first league game in 10 days as they looked rusty to say the least. Usual trusty players such as John Swift and Charlie Adam were sloppy in possession, but even so, we looked as organised as ever and nullified Nottingham Forest to very few chances.
However, in the opening 20 or so minutes of the second half, we came to life. Adam started running the show, Ovie Ejaria and Swift started producing moments of magic as they do and we really should’ve taken the lead - but we didn’t, and we were punished.
Ben Watson smashed home an incredibly dubious goal with what everyone thought was the last kick of the game to break the hearts of us fans and the players. However, the ref found a few extra seconds from somewhere and, after a whole half of time-wasting, feigning injuries and playing for a draw, Nottingham Forest scored an own goal to sent the Mad Stad into utter delirium. Glorious.
Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points from a memorable afternoon in Berkshire...
It is a truly thankless job, and I do not envy referee’s one bit, but the one put in charge of this game was average to say the very least. The refereeing should never be a talking point after a game like that, but unfortunately it was.
There are so many questions to be asked regarding the standard of officiating in the Championship, because it’s just not good enough at the moment. From little decisions such as throw ins, yellow cards etc all the way to the big moments - a la Nottingham Forest’s goal.
The fans were certainly unhappy with the refereeing performance, and you can’t really blame them because it nearly cost us a game that we never, ever deserved to lose...
If any of the Forest players have ever fancied decking someone during a match, now is the time to do it. Ref wont card them for anything #ReadingFC— Seth Dakota Shanager (@NCCDakota) January 11, 2020
What a finish to the game! That ref though - absolutely terrible all game #readingfc— Richard Saunders (@Richsaunders) January 11, 2020
Another Championship game, another terrible ref. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) January 11, 2020
not complaining about the score, was an unbelievable game but @ReadingFC need to sort out the refs. this video clearly shows who kicked the ball off the pitch and a corner shouldn’t have been given. honestly unfair and karma stabbed them right in the back.— Victoria Morgan (@Victori04930462) January 12, 2020
UTD #readingfc pic.twitter.com/7Z8pAlHAHr
This referee is a clown, seriously how is this allowed to happen? EFL have to be just leaving it to them, no quality management at all. Every week we get this, every week. Beyond not good enough #readingfc— Tom (@SaturdayRoyal) January 11, 2020
What a moment. This is why we love football. From despair to utter jubilation in a matter of seconds. I haven’t seen the Madejski Stadium erupt like that in a very, very long time as we haven’t had much to cheer about in the last few years - but this felt like a huge moment in our season and in the future of our club in general.
Bodies and limbs were everywhere in Club 1871 and all around the ground. It was no less than we deserved.
It felt like a sign of what is to come, and I truly hope it is. This bunch of players has character, spirit, grit and will put their bodies on the line for the badge and for the shirt - and this equaliser was another moment that proved that.
I think it’s fair to say that it was a goal that the fans enjoyed...
Scenes at the end , voice gone ,— Miles (@Milesyyy12) January 11, 2020
Leg is smashed in, but so worth it for that equaliser! Don’t you know pump it up the royals are going up #readingfc
Play to the whistle. That’s what we’re told as kids. FairPlay Reading we never gave up. Deserved point! ⚪️ ⚪️— Pete Wallace (@PeteWallace69) January 11, 2020
DONT YOU KNOW PUMP IT UP— m (@micahrfc19) January 11, 2020
Haven’t seen scenes like that for a long time bodies #readingfc— Matty Dempster (@DempsterRfc) January 11, 2020
Nothing more than we deserved, played so well second half, so happy we levelled absolutely mental scenes #readingfc— Simon Edwards (@Madstad109) January 11, 2020
Those scenes at the end of the game! Forest think they've won it from a corner that wasn't even a corner & then go up the other end a score an og! What I call poetic justice! #readingfc— stacey (@royal4ever07) January 11, 2020
Saturday once again showed how big the character of this squad really is. When things aren’t going your way, you concede a goal that shouldn’t have stood and you’re looking defeat dead in the eyes - it takes a lot of guts and resilience to fight back, which is what the players did yet again against Forest.
And that’s all we ever want to see as fans, we just want the players to care and to feel privileged to be playing for our club because we haven’t seen that over the last two or three years.
The fans are loving this bunch of players, and it’s clear to see...
You can see the change in the squad, earlier in the season we would never have equalised, heads would have dropped and confidence would have gone.. does anyone realistically think we need signings in the summer #Readingfc— Steve (@Steviep1871) January 11, 2020
Shows how far we’ve come under Bowen that ex Champions of Europe try to settle for a draw. Missed ( and will miss ) Joao today Great feet from Ovie and passion from Adam Up the Ding ⚪️ #Readingfc— Ian Anderson (@ianandy62) January 11, 2020
And as I press send he tries to fight the entire Forest team Never change, Yakou #readingfc— Matthew Williamson (@Photomattic) January 11, 2020
Genuinely feels like a win and with that second half performance, probably should have been a win. Still a good result though. Great character from the team to get that last minute equaliser. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) January 11, 2020
Great point today. Wasn’t there due to work Commitments but that sounded like we deserved a draw at least on second half showing. Undefeated run continues and we now battle to the very end. Unreal character. Limbs must have been so good! Onto Millwall. URZ! ⚪️#ReadingFC— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) January 11, 2020
Poor first half imo, dominated the second. Should have taken the chances but what character shown from the lads to rescue a point the late. Should have been 3 points but we’ll take 1. #readingfc— Alex Stone (@alexgstone) January 11, 2020
It’s a long time since I’ve seen a Reading team that has such fighting spirit. Great to see. #readingfc— Stevie p (@stevie_p1871) January 11, 2020
A game in which three points got away from us, but to rescue a point in those circumstances just proves how good of a job Bowen is doing with these players.
We have always had the quality to be fighting at the top end of the table, but we were just missing the dirty side of football - the grit, the fighting, the will and want to get your hands dirty to get three points. Now, we are beginning to see that and it’s such a pleasing sight.
Onwards and upwards.