Wednesday night was bad, very bad - and the need for a reaction was greater than ever, and the players and Mark Bowen definitely provided one, maybe not in terms of the overall performance but certainly in terms of the end result.
Bowen switched up the personnel from the Wigan disaster, making five changes to the team that lost 3-0 - but, as the gaffer said post-game, any one of the 10 outfield players could’ve been dropped in reality.
It was a job well done by the Royals as Saturday had a chance of being a really dangerous game for us, if we’d have lost that game the atmosphere around the club would’ve gone from very bad to near enough rock bottom - but we didn’t and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.
The fans were rightly furious, angry and upset after the Wigan game but were understandably in a much more jovial mood travelling home against the Tykes. Here’s how they reacted to some of the key talking points on Twitter after the game...
Praise For Bowen
He rightly came copped some serious flack after the Wigan game, with some fans even going to the extent of wanting him sacked as manager - which was probably a bit too premature.
However, on Saturday he got his tactics spot on and - after putting himself under a lot of pressure with some controversial comments in his post-match media duties on Wednesday - he had to make sure he backed those comments up with a result, and he did just that.
I don't think the Wigan game is completely out of the memories of the Loyal Royals just yet, but Bowen got some well deserved credit on social media after the game...
Not exactly his biggest advocate but good on Bowen for dropping Moore and Richards after Wednesday night. A lack of effort is completely unacceptable. Got his point across today. #readingfc— george (@sixersgeorge) February 29, 2020
Wednesday we were awful and no taking away from that. But reacting like this is important. Bowen’s interview on Wednesday put a lot of pressure on himself. He is so far proving a point today #readingfc— Elliott (@unger_elliott) February 29, 2020
I honestly thought rhino made a Huge difference today. Should never have been dropped on Wednesday. Also Rafa and puscas played well. Amazing what a pen and scrappy goal done for him. He looks full of confidence! Credit to bowen for making the changes too. #readingfc— cameron macken (@ronniemac93) February 29, 2020
All the Bowen haters are quiet again. On Twitter and at the stadium today. Nice to see they change their mind so quickly... as usual.— Reading FC Blue And White Wall (@bluewhitewall) February 29, 2020
I wonder where the haters went today? Hmmm...
I am glad to see they went quickly.#ReadingFC
Important win today! Pleased Bowen was bold enough to make some much needed changes. Roll on Tuesday! #readingfc— Ben (@BenParsons89) February 29, 2020
Hope we stick with that side for Sheffield Utd on Tuesday! Great 3pts and delighted for Bowen, the man needs time and the fans need patience if we are ever to build this club; and atmosphere, to where it once was URZZ #ReadingFC pic.twitter.com/ZDDi6iPFZh— Pedro‼️ (@PictonPedro) February 29, 2020
He hasn't fully found his feet yet but he still continues to show signs of his huge potential - his second goal at Wigan, his opener against Cardiff back in August and again on Saturday with a fantastic finish against Barnsley.
Fans have been far too impatient with him, but honestly if he gets given time and a long run of games in the team, he will become a top striker for us and score a lot of goals - because he's a natural goalscorer.
The turn, run and finish definitely got the fans talking after the game, maybe now we are all beginning to see how good this lad can be...
Make an orderly queue to apologise to me about Puscas slander #ReadingFC— Jimbo 2.0 (@DingJimbo) February 29, 2020
For me that was without doubt George Pușcaș best game in a @ReadingFC shirt. Even before his goal (Which was impressive) he looked sharper, energetic and had some tidy touches. If he can produce that consistently he'll be a real asset #readingfc ⚽— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) February 29, 2020
What a turnaround from mid-week, players looked really up for it today. Puscas starting to show all that potential he so clearly had. #readingfc— Tom Mitchell (@Tom_1871) February 29, 2020
Great performance by Puscas today. Not the best team performance but 3pts and a much better team selection. #readingfc— Dan (@DanHindmarsh16) February 29, 2020
Great finish by puscas as well. Not a world class finish but still had plenty of time to think about it and he took it like a striker in form. Hope today gives the team a lot of confidence heading into Tuesday game. #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) February 29, 2020
Puscas is going to be one to watch next season the boy is getting better and better each game.. #readingfc— Russell Collett (@Russy1871) March 1, 2020
One of those games where the performance just didn’t really matter - all that counted was getting those three points on the board and putting Wednesday night behind us, and we did just that.
It wasn't a perfect performance and Bowen will know that, there is still plenty of work to do in order to start looking up the table again - but it was three very important points for everyone at the club.
The fans were in a much better mood after the game, as the Royals broke the little bad run we’ve been on and helping to put the Wigan performance behind us...
By no means a great performance but a comfortable enough win. Barnsley, very poor. #readingfc— Rob Molloy (@Dobcheck73) February 29, 2020
Much better performance today. Comfortable win in the end against a very poor Barnsley side. The players were lively and we played with more intensity. Credit to everyone for bouncing back after Wed. Rino was my motm. Feels great to actually win at home URRZZ #readingfc— Oli Bryant (@OliB_RFC) February 29, 2020
Happy this Saturday afternoon!— Ben Honeywill (@HONEYWILL11RFC) February 29, 2020
Much more convincing performance today & worlds away from the crap on Wednesday.
Actually took the game to them & put pressure on rather than sitting back taking pressure.
Puscas looks like he’s finding confidence too. Good win!! ⚪️#readingfc
Bit of luck today but sometimes you need that. Puscas took his goal well. Did think we sat back a bit early, but opened up the counter more. Still not overly convinced by the tactics overall but it got the win so ♂️ and importantly, Masika looks lively. #readingfc— Matthew Williamson (@Photomattic) February 29, 2020
Pretty good performance today but the win was all that mattered today. Means we’re pretty much safe and can concentrate on Tuesday. Don’t think anyone had a bad game; Puscas MOTM and what a goal. Meite won’t score a better goal in his life #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) February 29, 2020
A performance and a result that goes a long way to wiping that Wigan game out of the memories of everyone involved at the club - which needs to be done as soon as possible.
A decent gap between us and the relegation zone now, and hopefully we continue to build on these performances and start looking upwards again.
Next up, the small matter of a FA Cup fifth-round game against Premier League Sheffield United.