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Colchester Fans Verdict: Joao Bags Hat Trick In Comfortable Win

A summary of how the Reading fans reacted to some of the key talking points to come from the 3-1 Carabao Cup win over Colchester.

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Well then, it’s all begun again. The last few weeks have been topsy-turvy to say the very least, but it’s still good to see the boys back in the blue and white hoops (even more so when the blue and white hoops look as good as they do this season).

And the players, in the end, did the first outing in the stunning new kit justice after a difficult first half against the League Two outfit, in which the Us took the lead through an inventive finish by Jevani Brown in the 37th minute.

There couldn’t really be any arguments from Reading for going behind as up till that point, we were incredibly sloppy - maybe the surprising starting eleven had something to do with that, but it still wasn’t good enough from the Royals.

But then it was time for Lucas Joao to take centre stage. Firstly he planted an equalising header into the bottom corner on the stroke of half time and then won the game for the Royals in the second half with a right footed seconded before a wonderful individual third goal that sealed a perfect hat trick. If we keep this guy fully fit and firing this season, he will be a serious player for us.

Here’s what the fans had to say about some of the key talking points...

The starting line-up

Eyes were peeled in anticipation for the first competitive team news of the season at 2pm on Saturday afternoon, and considering how much we - the fans - have been left in the dark over the last week or so, I’m sure we were all intrigued to see how the team would lineup. Even with Paunovic locked in his hotel room rather than in the dugout.

It was certainly intriguing to say the least, with Joao, Baldock and Marc McNulty all starting the game - which definitely raised a few eyebrows. Furthermore, forgotten man Sone Alike was given a start, as well as Felipe Araruna and academy players Luke Southwood and Ethan Bristow given their debuts.

I’m sure the line-up, which O’Shea later revealed was picked by Paunovic, was more a case of the new manager wanting to see more of some players before making a decision on their future - it certainly confused the Loyal Royals...

Lucas Joao

What a player this lad could be for us this season. On his day, he is a top, top striker at this level and proved it again on Saturday afternoon with a wonderful hat trick. It also reaffirms the theory that it’s no coincidence that as soon as Joao got injured at Craven Cottage on New Year’s Day, Reading’s season started to really decline.

Along with Puscas, who will get better this season, and the ever-reliable goal scorer Meite, Joao is part of arguably the strongest attacking lineup we have had in some years, and now it’s up to new man Paunovic to get the best out of all 3 and keep all 3 happy - which will not be easy.

There was a lot of love being thrown around for the hat trick hero on Twitter after the game, and rightly so...

More academy debuts

With all the chaos and negativity that’s been surrounding the club during pre-season, one thing that will always cheer fanbases up - particularly the Reading fanbase - is debuts for academy graduates. And we got two more of them against the Us.

Luke Southwood got his long awaited, and arguably long overdue, debut between the sticks and 18-year-old Ethan Bristow got given his first professional start at left back.

Both players slotted in effortlessly with Southwood making a couple of key saves, particularly in the first half, and Bristow looked assured and confident throughout the game at left back.

It certainly cheered up the fans, and hopefully Paunovic continues to put faith into the academy players, as we do have a seriously talented crop of youngsters coming through at the moment...

Conclusion

All in all, a good first outing of the season for the Royals. I think the starting lineup was definitely more a case of Paunovic wanting to see more of certain players rather than it being a style of play and lineup that he wants to stick with going forward, but I might be wrong.

It’s definitely going to be a busy week as we build up to the Championship curtain raiser and I really hope Paunovic proves the doubters wrong. It's not his fault he’s now in the driver’s seat so lets back him from the first whistle.

URZ