A week is a long time in football. A really long time. This time last week we were still reeling from the collapse at Bournemouth and with no sign of any fans being let into stadiums. Before KO against the Wednesday on Wednesday (lols), we were unbeaten in two, having walked Bristol City off the park on Saturday and were close to ‘selling out’ (although I’m not sure selling 2,000 tickets constitutes this phrase) for our game against Forest this coming Saturday, the first time fans would be allowed back into the Berkshire Arena since early March.
I myself had some issues to deal with in the run-up to this game. Having secured a ticket for the Forest game, I had to break the news to my wife that the KO time would mean me missing the annual Christmas tree-buying extravaganza (we go to Yattendon Estates FYI), which of course went down like a balloon that had been filled with some sort of metal-based material, like, I don’t know, iron. No, osmium (which Google tells me is the most dense of all the metals)!
I felt good about this game. We’d done well in previous mid-week games recently and there was no reason why we wouldn’t beat a team that was still recovering from:
a) A points deduction
b) Having Tony Pulis as their manager
c) Being really northern
They’d make it difficult for us, but providing we did the right things, we’d win the game.
Watching The Prutton pre-game was funny, seeing his teeth grit as he tried to praise us for the weekend and some of our results so far this season. He just can’t do it, can he? It was most splendid however to see Jobi McAnuff doing some of the punditry - a genuine Reading legend who never lacked commitment or fight when he played.
We were then given some FaceTime with Pulis and I just muted the TV to be honest. I can’t stand the guy and in some instances (and I’ll get blocked on Twitter for this), he’s worse than Neil Warnock. At least Warnock knows people hate him: Pulis still dines out on keeping Stoke in the Premier League for 25 years by playing, put politely, anti-football. He’s just a massive whingebag and it’s hard to listen to him.
We didn’t start too badly to be fair. We looked quite bright and calm in possession and I still had a good feeling. And then they scored. To call Callum Paterson a pub footballer would be doing pub footballers a disservice. Just an absolute clogger of a striker/midfielder/defender and perfect for what Pulis will want to do with his new side. It was the worst goal we’d conceded all season IMO and I felt a bit sick afterwards. Shortly after, Olise hit the white part of the goal that holds the goal up and our tails were back up again.
Wednesday then proved me right about how awful and terrible and pedestrian they are by earning their fifth (fifth, as in number five of a certain thing) major felony card of the season. An awful tackle on our lovely left back Richards (who I love a lot) left the chap in dark colours no choice but to send Shaw for a cold (hopefully freezing) shower. Bye bye.
39 minutes saw my favourite part of an action-packed first half. Not the run and cross by Richards that should have resulted in a goal, but the fact that Semedo, in his frustration, karate-kicked the post. It was so funny I tweeted about it. He really did plant one on it! I’m still chuckling now actually. So much lols. The post wasn’t the only thing taking a battering as Wednesday were properly on the ropes. The pressure told when Joao outmuscled Paterson (shame) to nod in the equaliser. Not even the most northern of all northern people would disagree that we deserved it and the Royals went into the break on the front foot.
Half time was a disaster for me. I went to retrieve a snack from the cupboard, but to my absolute horror there was nothing where something should be. No twix bars, no biscuits, no pre-Christmas chocolates. I was pretty sad at this point, so lay down on the sofa and watched the adverts advertising things I didn’t need. I was surprised to see that Dior were still running that advert with Johnny Depp in the desert where he says he’s got to get out of here and then he just gets in a car he finds and drives off and then a big bottle of aftershave just appears. I wasn’t surprised because of that court case he lost, I was surprised because it’s a terrible advert which makes no sense.
My eyes were then asked to watch some Luton fans clapping from some wooden seats (pretty sure you can’t anti-bac wipe wood). To compound my half-time misery, Keith Andrews was still on co-commentary when the second half commenced. I hoped that we’d score early to ease my pain of being both snackless and overly exposed to terrible TV. Wednesday made about seven subs to stop us from being brilliant but I was sure it wouldn’t work and that we’d still win.
Imagine my rage then when we were denied a stone-cold stunner of a 12-yard death kick. How the referee decided it was simulation was baffling in itself, but to then not book Richards for the supposed simulation was absolutely bemusing. At least have courage in your convictions, man! My rage made the cat jump, which served her right because she had bitten me earlier, for no reason I might add. Man 1 - Cat 1.
Reading huffed and puffed as the half wore on. They threatened and frustrated in equal measure but couldn’t find the breakthrough they needed. The chaps from the steel city defended solidly and consistently, but the possession stats were firmly in favour of Reading. We were denied two penalties (and either one could have been given, it really could) and you knew then that we were heading for a point. It was always going to be difficult when they stuck 10 men behind the ball and then had the ref rooting for them.
Immediately after the game, my feeling was that we’d dropped two points. Pauno talked before the game about finding a consistency of performance. To be truthful, we weren’t bad in this game at all, but these are the games that define what a good team is. We had enough to unlock the door in this game, we just couldn’t find the key to do it. It does keep our unbeaten run going and at least we seemed to have stabilised the defence, but the attacking players will look back on this and be disappointed they couldn’t get the extra goal to bag us a +3.
In another week’s time, we would have welcomed back 4,000 fans to the Whitley Bowl. Let’s hope they’ve been able to oversee two wins to really hammer home that consistency. As I said, a week is a long time in football. Anything can happen.
Until next time.