That’s that, then. The near-perfect start to the season has come to an end - it was always going to at some point. And based on the performance against newly promoted Coventry City, it deserved to end too.
The players just weren’t really at the races. They started pretty well, with Lucas Joao missing a glorious one-on-one chance to put us 1-0 up - one you would’ve put your house on him scoring. If Joao had scored that, you would’ve backed the players to defend a lead the way they have all season so far.
However, maybe that was the first sign that it just wasn't our night. Coventry went on to score three goals, all of which came directly from shots from outside the box, and despite Joao’s equalising strike to make it 1-1, and a late Puscas consolation, it was the home side that secured the points.
Now, all eyes will be on next Wednesday, and it’ll be the Preston North End game that really shows us what this team is made of, and how they react to a first league loss of the season.
Here’s how the fans summed up their opinions on Twitter on Friday night...
It was a double whammy for Paunovic against the Sky Blues, as not only did he have his first league loss as gaffer, he may have also lost his skipper. Moore was left worse for wear after a hefty challenge midway through the second half, and although the captain tried to continue, McIntyre was forced to replace him later on in the game.
As we all know, Liam Moore has been imperious so far this season, and with Pauno confirming that Moore will see a specialist, the fans will be hoping it’s not another long-term injury to another key player.
Here's what they had to say...
Araruna, Baldock, Holmes, Meite, Swift, Ejaria, Yiadom and possibly Moore all out injured... #readingfc— Kian (@dingkian) October 30, 2020
If Moore is out for long that could hurt us #readingfc— Mark Fidgett (@MarkFidgett) October 30, 2020
Liam Moore out now, the injuries are a joke right now #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) October 30, 2020
Sod it! Sounds a bad injury to Liam Moore. #readingfc— Andy C #FBPE (@AndyRFCCharman) October 30, 2020
Gutted that Moore has got injured tonight because he's been back close to his top level so far this season. As Paunovic said in the post match interview, that could end up being the biggest loss of the night #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) October 30, 2020
Need to pray Moore will be back sooner than later, ideally Weds #ReadingFC— Another Football Analyst (@Analytics1871) October 30, 2020
Liam Moore now out for a while? Christ! Why is it when reading get injuries it’s injuries to key players? Squad depth or lack of it is going to really be our downfall #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) October 30, 2020
As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. Reading’s silver lining on Friday night came in the shape of Lucas Joao, who despite missing the guilt-edged chance at 0-0, was again our best player.
His superb goal proved that he’s a man in a truly sensational run of form. Not only did he bag a goal, he even managed to get an assist for Puscas late on - when, in truth, the game was already lost.
With injuries already to Ejaria, Swift, Yiadom, Meite and now Moore - Joao is the man we absolutely have to keep fit. Judging by their reaction on Twitter, I think the fans agree with me on that one...
Joao, will you marry me? #readingfc— James Davies (@Jamie_1871) October 30, 2020
Lucas Joao is an unbelievable striker #readingfc— Lucas (@YinBennett) October 30, 2020
JOAO #READINGFC— Jamie (@dingfcjamie) October 30, 2020
Coooorrr that’s some strike from Joao. #readingfc— (@steel_beake) October 30, 2020
Joao is unplayable, I almost feel sorry for opposition centre backs #ReadingFC— Michael Edwards (@Ted2theE) October 30, 2020
What a goal from Joao #readingfc— Ollie (@OllieRFC_) October 30, 2020
In case you needed reminding, Lucas Joao is the best striker in the league #ReadingFC— Lucas Joao lover. (@RFC187106) October 30, 2020
The Preston game
Next Wednesday evening we host Preston at the Mad Stad, and it it this game that'll give us a much, much better idea of the kind of team this group of players really are.
It’s how you react to the losses that really make you promotion contenders, and I'm sure the players and Paunovic will be more than keen to prove to the rest of the league that this start hasn’t been a fluke.
I have total faith that the players will just do that, but it is completely down to them now. The fans were positive in defeat after the Coventry game, and also agree that next Wednesday’s game has just got a lot bigger...
Ok we’re losing it was bound to happen it’s how we react now #readingfc— Jon (@jonreading35) October 30, 2020
Wednesday is massive now. Got to stand up and react. Still top of the league. We go again #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) October 30, 2020
3 games in 6 days, 2 away. No Swift, Ejaria, Meite or Yiadom. For those writing us off after 1 loss tonight will be praising us again if we beat Preston. All about how you react. Need players back though ASAP. #readingfc— Jimmy Coulson (@Jimmy_Coulson) October 30, 2020
It’s all about how we react to this against Preston now #readingfc— Stevie p (@stevie_p1871) October 30, 2020
Disappointed to lose today but it's not the end of the world. We're still gonna be top of the league by at least 3 points. All about getting a reaction against Preston. We go again Wednesday #readingfc— AidenRFC (@AidenRFC_) October 30, 2020
So important we win against Preston and get back to winning ways, not gonna win them all, give credit to Cov, they wanted it more than us so fair play lads #readingfc #pusb— Saul (@Saul1871) October 30, 2020
#readingfc BACK the team , don't blame the manager ,stay positive and bring on Wednesday for the Preston game.— Michael Hunter (@Michael_BHunter) October 30, 2020
Been absolutely awful tonight IMO, midfield have been nearly non existent. Aluko has been dreadful. Big show of character to see how we react next week. #readingfc— Jack Roberts (@jackaroberts95) October 30, 2020
Preston game next week is huge #readingfc have to get something there I think .— Thomas (@ThomasRfc_) October 31, 2020
Wasn’t to be, wasn't our night. But i also think there were positives to take - some teams may have completely crumbled when going behind for the first time in a season, but we didn't.
We kept going, kept fighting and kept trying to go and score, but it just wasn’t to be. And in the end it was a really uncharacteristic mistake from Rafael that’s ultimately cost us.
All about how we react now, and next Wednesday’s game is now absolutely massive. I’m already nervous.