`A game that truly summed up Reading’s season - some more than dodgy defending, a piece of magic from John Swift, showed character to get back into the game, and then ultimately the disappointment at the end.
Brereton opened the scoring after two minutes thanks to some calamitous defending, and then it got worse before it got any better as four minutes later Adam Armstrong doubled the hosts’ lead. Swifty then did what Swifty does with an inch perfect free kick before the break to give Bowen’s men a slither of hope.
Moore then deflected a Rothwell shot past the helpless Rafael, before super sub Sam Baldock came on and not only scored to get it back to 3-2 but also assisted Yakou Meite’s equaliser as the players decided to turn up the gas a bit.
But, like we should all be used to by now, as we started looking the more dangerous and the more likely to win - Blackburn hit us with a sucker punch and ran out eventual 4-3 winners. Like I said, it was just 90 minutes that encapsulated every emotion us fans have felt this season. Anger, frustration, promise, hope and then disappointment all rolled into one.
Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points to come from the game..
As the attackers have continued to disappoint this season, ever since Bowen came in you can't argue against the fact that we have become a better defensive side under his reign - however, we were very, very bad at the back on Saturday.
Within 6 minutes, we’d conceded two goals with some horror show defending and then in the second half it didn't get any better - with Moore heading a shot past Rafael, and then Gallagher jumping higher than Obita to head home the winner.
It really wasn't great from the Royals, and another sign of the overhaul that is needed at the club this summer. The fans certainly were not impressed...
5 defenders on the pitch & we still concede 2 in 6 minutes. Yeah well done Mark! #readingfc— Robbie Nicholas (@RobbieN_16) July 18, 2020
Poor goal to concede, players switching off. That was far too easily #readingfc— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) July 18, 2020
Our attackers did everything to fix the horrendous defending, that like the Stoke & Derby games has cost us, only to see their hard work chucked away by the defence again. The difference between the two is quite mad.— Luke Wallace (@Luke2Wallace) July 18, 2020
Not expecting much from the Swansea game.#readingfc #BLAvREA
Awful. All the good work to get us level undone by yet more poor defending. How do we respond...bring on a CB. Baffling. #readingfc— Ben (@BenParsons89) July 18, 2020
One why is Puscas defending.— Robbos Gobcast (@RGobcast) July 18, 2020
Two what was that defending.
3-1 Blackburn #readingfc
The loss on Saturday sparked conversation between the Reading fans about whether Mark Bowen is the man to take Reading in the right direction.
Saturday was another more than lacklustre performance, and it isn't the first time that we’ve seen those kinds of showing from Bowen’s team. When we win, it’s great and everyone is happy - as they should be. However, when we are losing, Bowen’s style of play can be a painful watch.
In fairness, I think the Blackburn loss was more down to individual mistakes and players individual performances rather than Bowen’s tactics - even though bringing Osho on for Swift when you’re chasing a winner was a bit of a head scratching substitute.
The reaction was certainly mixed when it came to discussing Bowen’s future on twitter...
I feel like I'm the only person in this fanbase that is firmly Bowen in. #readingfc— Lewis Radbourne (@lewisradbourne1) July 18, 2020
Mark Bowen has been our manager 278 days, anyone any clearer on what his managerial philosophy is from the day he joined? #ReadingFC— Matheus na Casa (@maffff) July 18, 2020
Bowen does love to throw people under the bus it seems #readingfc— Matt (@matthayes27) July 18, 2020
People saying they want Bowen gone, give your head a wobble. We can FINALLY get rid of players from at least the past 3 regimes, owners and managers alike. The only thing linking successful teams recently has been the managers given time and autonomy. #ReadingFC— Blue & White Jester (@bw_jester_rfc) July 18, 2020
Tbh this campaign was effectively over in October - Bowen got us out of the pits and deserves a chance to at least sign a few of his own players and staff and see what he can do for #ReadingFC over the summer— Pedro‼️ (@PictonPedro) July 18, 2020
What worries me about a squad clear out + Bowen in charge, is that he is liable to playing 6 defenders during games where there's nothing to play for, let alone when he has some money to spend to do what he likes. Who is in charge of transfers at the club atm? #Readingfc— Reading FC 106 (@Reading106) July 18, 2020
Coppell took over at #readingfc in 03/04 at a similar time Bowen did this year. Had three successive 3-0 defeats over Christmas, a 5-1 defeat to Rotherham, two wins in final six games of the season and trouble scoring goals. I'd have hated to see the reaction back then.— Olly Allen (@OllyAllen_) July 18, 2020
Some fans need to realise that #readingfc are no longer at 'top Championship team' + whilst that sounds obvious on the surface, we're still expecting managers to come in and put us in the top six 1st time round.— Sam Hudspith (@samhudspith24) July 19, 2020
If ANYBODY deserves time (bc of strength of squad) it's Bowen.
Baldock’s post-match interview
Sam Baldock’s career at Reading has been a turbulent one to say the least. Signed for a reported hefty fee from Brighton, before becoming one of the players Gomes eradicated from first team plans, and then finding himself back in the frame under Mark Bowen.
Anyone who has been through as much as Baldock has in the last two years probably has quite a lot to say on the matter - and he opened up quite a bit after the game when he was interviewed by Tim Dellor on BBC Berkshire.
Baldock eluded - without really going into any detail - to the club being a bit of a mess behind the scenes. We know that it used to be a mess under the tenure of Ron Gourlay and Gianluca Nani - but with a senior player such as Baldock coming out and saying things like that in the media, it certainly got the alarm bells ringing for some of the Loyal Royals.
As Bowen did in his interview, Baldock confirmed that a lot of changes are probably going to happen this summer, which is exactly what we need - but how many seasons on the bounce have we said that now?
Here’s what the fans had to say about the controversial Baldock interview...
For him to say that is actually quite important m/refreshing for us fans. He can probably get away with it too as a player. Clearly Bowen shares those views, but can’t go the whole hog in terms of commenting. Fair play to him for being honest and cutting to the chase.— Ben Thomas (@mrblthomas) July 19, 2020
Hes been our worst striker this season so idk how he thinks he 'deserves' a run in the team. But he looked decent yesterday for once— Luke Rogers (@saiint) July 19, 2020
Isn’t he one of the higher earners at the club so when he says about people upstairs not wanting him you would assume they wanted his wages off the bill if he wasn’t in managers plans.— Dave Niker (@daveniker16) July 19, 2020
Interesting interview with Baldock. Still sounds like a mess behind the scenes with a lot of rumours flying around the dressing room which doesn't sound good. Owners have chucked a fortune at the club but I think they have no clue regarding the playing side. #readingfc— Rob Molloy (@Dobcheck73) July 18, 2020
Refreshing honesty in the Baldock interview. Doesn’t take a genius to see things are bad off the pitch but he’s the only player who has had the balls to come out and say it. Clearly wants to help the club and not ok with just picking up his salary. Need more like him #readingfc— Colin White (@_col__83) July 19, 2020
The game that confirmed what we all know: there's going to be huge changes this summer.
Expect to see a huge overturn of players, with most if not all of the out of contract players heading out the door - potentially alongside some of the top earners too.
I still think Bowen will be given the summer to build his own team as much as he can, and hopefully we can just put to bed what has been a bit of a roller coaster season.