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Stoke City Fans Verdict: Royals Return with Disappointing Draw

How the Loyal Royals reacted to some of the key talking points to come from Reading’s first competitive game since March 7.

Doing a fans’ verdict for a game where there were absolutely no fans in the ground has a hint of irony to it, but none the less something I guess I’ll have to get used to for the next eight matches!

Football is finally back, albeit in very, very strange circumstances. However, I’m sure everybody has missed it and is more than happy to have the Royals playing Championship football again, even though none of us can be there to experience it in person.

Let’s talk about the game itself then - and it was just the same old Reading wasn't it. That might be a bit harsh considering, like I said and like everyone knows, this was our first proper football match in a very long time so it should've been expected to see a bit of rustiness and sloppiness. But, scoring early and not taking chances to increase that lead, only to crumble late on and concede an awful equaliser isn't something that is new to the Reading fanbase.

Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points from the game on Twitter after the game...

Football is back!

This has been the key talking point, not just for Reading fans, but for the entire country in the last week or so. The beautiful game is finally back, but in a way that no club, fan, player or manager has ever experienced.

The first weekend of football has proven that the remaining games will throw up some big surprises and results and nothing is guaranteed. But what is guaranteed, judging by the fans in the run up to the game on Saturday, is that everyone is excited, relieved and delighted that football is back and on our TV screens again - even though iFollow did its best to make sure that didn't happen.

Here’s the roundup of all of those emotions from the Loyal Royals who were eager to see their beloved club back in action, even if they did end up letting them down...

Lucas Joao

We haven't seen the Portuguese striker in action since he went off injured in the last few minutes against Fulham on New Year’s Day - and boy, have we missed him. He was key for us in that upturn in form during the Christmas period, and who knows where we would be in the league now if he hadn’t have got injured.

He returned to the starting lineup on Saturday against Stoke, and certainly made an impact. Within seven minutes he had swept home Meite’s cross to put the Royals 1-0 up and get the hoops off to the perfect start. However, it was a bittersweet day for the former Sheffield Wednesday man as midway through the first half, the worst sight a Reading fan could possible imagine happened - and Joao hobbled off injured, again.

It is no coincidence that when Joao went off, the performance started to decline, and Bowen and the fans will be keeping everything crossed that he hasn't damaged his hamstring even more.

Here’s what the fans had to say about the big man’s performance...

Sickening equaliser

‘New’ season, same old Reading. They build us up and then let us down, it’s what we’re used to now let’s be honest.

Like I said before, though, this is the first game back in ridiculously strange circumstances that are sure to effect player performances - especially in the first game. However, it doesn’t soften the blow of conceding a last-minute equaliser from a corner.

Stoke were allowed two free headers before the ball ended up in the back of Rafael’s net in added time, which just isn't good enough - no matter how long it’s been since the first day back.

I have to say other than that we defended brilliantly. Moore and Morrison were both imperious, but one lapse of judgement ruined what would’ve been an important three points - and the fans were certainly left frustrated...

Conclusion

I saw tweets time and time again during lockdown saying something a long the lines of ‘I’d do anything to see Reading lose 3-0 at home to Wigan right now’, which in the moment is probably true. But when football actually is back, and Reading actually do concede a last-minute goal, it's still not a great feeling.

Hopefully this game was just a case of dusting off the cobwebs and in the remaining eight games, we’ll be able to push on and climb up the table.

Also, just a quick note from me on the events that unfolded in Forbury Park on Saturday evening. I am not a resident, or have ever been a resident, of Reading but as a lifelong Reading fan, it still hits hard when a town you love is attacked at its core. My thoughts go out to all of those who have been affected by the tragic events.

URZ