Mark Bowen stated after the Wigan Athletic game last Wednesday that one small saving grace was the fact that when his team have performed poorly in the past, they have always gone on to rectify that in the games after. Tuesday night was another night which helped the process of putting that Wigan game in the club’s distant memory.
We were brilliant against Sheffield United - our defensive discipline was fantastic, we constantly looked a threat going forward on the break and at times we really took the game to them which is a huge credit to both the players and the manager.
Ultimately, though, we did lose the game and that does hurt considering how well we played and how organised we were for 120 minutes. But if you fall asleep for even a second against teams as good as Sheffield United, you will get punished, and we did.
However, there was plenty for the Loyal Royals to be happy about and I’m sure they travelled home on Tuesday night with a lot of optimism and excitement for the next game. Here’s how they reacted to some of the key talking points to come from the game...
The Mad Stad was absolutely bouncing on Tuesday night - and we haven't been able to say that very much in the last few years.
I haven’t been involved in scenes like the celebrations for George Puscas’ penalty in a very long time, either. Even opposition manager Chris Wilder went out of his way after the game to say how good us Reading fans were - now we just need to make that kind of noise on a consistent basis, and keep on getting behind the team.
Here’s what the fans had to say about the atmosphere on Twitter after the game...
Good performance for #readingfc United just deserved it but main thing was, what an atmosphere! Despite the spaces around the ground - Club 1871 made Mad Stad sound better than times when it’s been full. Terrific effort and proud of them and the team @TheTilehurstEnd @ReadingFC pic.twitter.com/9TdqEUR0Y9— David A C Spencer (@DavidACSpencer) March 4, 2020
Good game so far. Best atmosphere at the Madjeski for quite a while #readingfc #URZ pic.twitter.com/3ABWIm4CJy— Peter Beck (@PeterJamesBeck) March 3, 2020
The atmosphere in @Club1871 was just amazing. Thank you for making that such a special night. I will never forget this. Shame we couldn't win but we still had a good time (ignore the referee).— Reading FC Blue And White Wall (@bluewhitewall) March 3, 2020
Club 1871 is just brilliant.#ReadingFC
In another note the atmosphere is @Club1871 was . Left my mates to sit there on my own no regrets at all #readingfc— JamesSuarezruns (@james6suarez) March 4, 2020
What a cracking atmosphere yesterday was, was a proud night to be a royal despite the result ⚪️ #Readingfc pic.twitter.com/S9q8f4g4SB— The Reading Review (@reading_review) March 4, 2020
Top effort from all players and fans tonight #readingfc pic.twitter.com/PQUY0WlVzA— Alex (@YinBennett) March 3, 2020
Impressed with the noise and numbers from the much maligned @Club1871— (@_otherideas) March 4, 2020
I was right by the #twitterblades supporters but could hear the #readingfc fans in South Stand over them throughout. pic.twitter.com/bBug6xtuEZ
Personally, I always refuse to place the blame on referee’s win, lose or draw because at the end of the day both teams have the same ref. However, a large section of the Reading fans were quick to let their feelings be known about Kevin Friend’s performance on social media after the game.
The ref, who we are used to seeing in the Premier League most of the time, did give the hosts a penalty towards the end of the second half - but other than that, the fans really didn't appreciate his performance.
It was summed up when he didn’t give what looked like a clear foul on Puscas seconds before Billy Sharp’s winner but what can you do? Here’s what the fans had to say...
Referee costing us a result again, getting repetitive now. #readingfc— RFC_Ty (@TyMarsh74910868) March 3, 2020
Was terrible in the championship, god knows how he’s a premier league referee... #readingfc https://t.co/zv4lFgIxJD— Luke (@gibbsey517) March 4, 2020
Mark Bowen just said the ref had his “usual game”. #ReadingFC— Clyde1998 (@Clyde1998) March 3, 2020
Kevin friend stealing a living as a ref for too long now #readingfc— Jon (@jonreading35) March 3, 2020
Good to see that the refs used in the prem are equally as bad as the EFL ones #readingfc— Cam (@CamWyper) March 3, 2020
Have to take you hat off sometimes when a higher league player knows how to dispose of a lower league side. Sometimes you just have to take your hat off. So, fair play, congratulations to Kevin Friend on a cracking performance for Sheffield Utd #readingfc— Trenchcoat (@Adamhumphries44) March 3, 2020
Great game. “Premier league standard ref” and he looked after the Premier league side well! #readingfc https://t.co/O2ZGEFFLrZ— Jonathan Richards (@JR_1871) March 3, 2020
Hate blaming Refs, but tonight’s was possibly the worst we had. 1 minute at the end? An absolute joke. Fair play to Sheff who clearly are organised. But we really didn’t deserve that. #readingfc— micah (@m1c4hE19) March 3, 2020
Sense of pride
Let’s just be honest here, we were really good on Tuesday night. Yes, we lost, but the application, fight, determination and quality when in possession from the players could not be doubted one little bit.
John Swift and Michael Olise ran the show in midfield, Matt Miazga and Michael Morrison were gargantuan at the back and Puscas and Yakou Meite looked a threat all evening going forward. It was a very competitive performance against a team who are striving for Champions League football next season.
Bowen will be proud, the players should be proud and the fans are definitely proud of the performance the players put in...
Great performance from the boys tonight couldn’t fault them, think we deserved to win it but that’s how it goes. Great atmosphere just gutting about the result #readingfc— Harry Coffin (@H_Coffin1804) March 3, 2020
Really can't complain about that performance, up against one of the most organised teams in the Premier League and gave it a good go. Definitely unlucky at times but definitely should have been better for Sheffield United's two goals. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) March 3, 2020
What a fantastic performance from every man tonight gave everything we could against a high flying strong Sheffield United team I’m proud of my team on to Birmingham now UTFD ⚪️ #readingfc @ReadingFC— Owen Thorner (@owen_thorner) March 3, 2020
Fantastic performance really. Showed proper determination against a top top side. #readingfc— Harry Sands (@SarryHands) March 3, 2020
We were crying out for Lucas Joao at times. Puscas held his own tho. Top performance. If only we took it to penalties #readingfc— Bowen’s Barmy Army (@BowenKnowsBest) March 3, 2020
Yes mark, we did, that was a class performance, I really struggle to find something to complain about #readingfc https://t.co/COSQZaLAmA— Dan (@ding_dan_18) March 3, 2020
Brilliant performance frim @ReadingFC, unlucky not to grab an equaliser at tue end. If we take that performance into every remaining game we'll habe a good base to build on for next season. #REAvSHU #readingfc— Matty Lovegrove (@LovegroveMatty) March 4, 2020
Now that the dust may have settled quite a bit it's fair that #ReadingFC receive a pat on the back for such a heroic performance. They were brave, entertaining n graceful. The #Reading fans were phenomenal. Grateful 4 this new friendship. Congrats #Sheffield— Tiras Waiyaki Thuku (@TTWaiyaki) March 4, 2020
Mad love from Kenya pic.twitter.com/AgByPvBcQ5
To a man we were brilliant on Tuesday night - we just got punished twice by a very well organised team.
The tricky bit for Bowen now is to ensure the players show that same drive and motivation in our remaining league games now - which is a whole different kettle of fish compared to an FA Cup home tie against a Premier League club.