Going into the Luton Town game off the back of a poor performance at Brentford, and an injury to captain Liam Moore adding to an already depleted squad, I for one was a little bit nervous. However, the players dealt with all their adversities incredibly well, particularly in the first half. It was by no means a spectacular performance, but it was a very important result, and the best teams are the ones that win when they’re not at their best.
The first goal was one that will live long in the memory for all of us fans: a wonderful finish from boyhood supporter Tom McIntyre who I’m sure that, despite the joy, will be a little bit annoyed there weren’t any fellow fans in the stadium to celebrate with.
The second was a lovely free-flowing move finished off by Alfa Semedo, and from then on it was a classic early-season Veljko Paunovic performance: clinical in attack and resolute in defence when Luton put us under pressure in the second half. A really satisfying result.
Here’s how the happy fans reacted to some of the key talking points...
Where else is there to begin? McIntyre has been a fans favourite for a long time, mainly because he’s one of us - a Loyal Royal. The only thing better than seeing one of your own play in the blue and white hoops is seeing them score in them, which is something Tom did against Luton in superb style.
It was a wonderful sweeping finish - one that you’d associate with an in-form striker rather than a young centre back filling in at left back. This season has been difficult for McIntyre, but we were all delighted to see him get his first goal for the club...
Tom McIntyre is the player you want to see play 500 games, captain the side and win all the trophies.— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) December 26, 2020
Delighted with him scoring his first goal. #readingfc
Omg what a goal McIntyre!!!!#ReadingFC— Reading FC Blue And White Wall (@bluewhitewall) December 26, 2020
Tom McIntyre, exactly what you’d hope to have in an academy product. Fantastic attitude and humble, very unlike other options/examples. Great to see him get a goal #readingfc— Tom (@SaturdayRoyal) December 26, 2020
What a finish by McIntyre, stunning way to get your first goal for the club. A club which he supports #readingfc— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) December 26, 2020
Tom McIntyre is so Reading that his first goal had a really low xG score. #readingfc— Greg Double (@Dubstep1988) December 26, 2020
It seems all we’ve had this season when it comes to injury news is bad news. However, those fortunes changed as John Swift made his long-awaited return to first-team action against Luton.
He’s been a huge miss since he got injured and will add a huge amount of quality and that sprinkling of magic in the final third, something we’ve lacked when Olise hasn’t played. There’s no denying how good Swift can be, and the fans are certainly hoping we get to see much more of him in the second half of the season...
Welcome back— ReeceRFC (@Reece_RFC) December 26, 2020
Great to have you back ⚽️— harry (@harryarthur10) December 26, 2020
Welcome back John. It's been tooooo long! Glad your fit again ⚽— Clare D (@claredoc76) December 27, 2020
Welcome back swifty— AidenRFC (@AidenRFC_) December 26, 2020
Swift is CLASS, just grown in and so elegant #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) December 26, 2020
Made hard work of that in the second half! #readingfc— Becky Trotman (@beckytrotman) December 26, 2020
Three points and a fit Swift cant be sniffed at though.
Was weird seeing him on the pitch but glad he’s back ⚪️— DamonRFC (@Damonla62342577) December 26, 2020
Important three points
As I said before, it was by no means a spectacular performance that had us on the edge of our seats, but it was a really, really important three points.
It keeps us well in the mix of the play-offs and was a little throwback to how we were in the opening stages of the season. We were clinical when our chances came and we withstood a lot of pressure from the opposition, this time though we did it without some of our most integral players - which makes it that little bit more pleasing.
We've got two tough away games coming up so the fans were delighted to get another +3 on the board against Luton...
Important win to keep us in contention. Getting points on the board with the mass of injuries is impressive. Pauno takes the credit there - sure we would have got beat under our other recent managers with that line up.— Al (@dadros70) December 26, 2020
Great to see Swifty back as well - oozes class#readingfc
Great win that with all the injuries. Eases the pressure massively heading into Swansea. #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) December 26, 2020
Really poor second half, but it's wins like that are difference between finishing 7th and finishing in the top six. If you can win when you aren't playing well, it's the sign of a good team #readingfc— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) December 26, 2020
Finding a way to win without our key players... we love to see it! #readingfc— Nigel Charles Vass (@Nigee87) December 26, 2020
That is a cracking result for #readingfc. Not a goal fest but it was never going to be that. But they did what they had to and I'm smiling again.— Karz From The 'Ding ☕ (@FFSKarz) December 26, 2020
A very important and impressive win, all things considered. The only negative will be another mistake from keeper Rafael, and I’m sure Luke Southwood will be licking his lips ready for a chance against Swansea on Wednesday.
Reading have a couple of really tough away games coming up now, but hopefully we’ll have some more important bodies back in the fold for them in the shape of Omar Richards and Lucas Joao, and in Pauno we trust.