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Fans Verdict: Royals End 2020 With Swansea Shut-Out

For the last time in 2020, Harry rounds up the best of the Loyal Royals’ reaction from the stalemate in Swansea.

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On the whole, 2020 has to be deemed a progressive year for Reading, and that was typified by the fact that the Royals would end the calendar year in the top six of the Championship regardless of the result at the Liberty Stadium, after starting the year in 14th spot.

The result against Swansea was a very hard-fought 0-0 - one that I don’t think any fans will really complain about when you combine how good of a team Swansea are and the amount of key players we’ve still got on the injury table.

I was staggered when Sky put up a graphic which showed that, since the end of the seventh game of the season, we have the joint-worst defensive record in the entire Football League. But the defence looked back to their early-season best against the Swans, even without Liam Moore and Omar Richards.

The star of the show though was of course Rafael, who lost out on Sky’s man-of-the-match award to Andre Ayew - a player he thwarted throughout the game with a number of impressive saves...

Anyway, here’s how the fans reacted to the key talking points.

Rafael

He’s made more than his fair share of mistakes this season, including one last time out against Luton Town when he let Lua Lua’s long range effort through him. There were even rumours developing in the run-up to Wednesday night saying Rafael would be dropped, allowing Southwood to get his long-awaited chance.

However, Pauno stuck with Rafa, and he’ll be glad he did now. We all know Rafa is a terrific shot stopper and he showed that once again on Wednesday night with a string of superb saves, the pick of the punch coming from a flying Ayew header in the second half.

The fans were impressed, and they will be hoping that this is a corner turned for the Brazilian ‘keeper...

Tom Holmes

The entire back four were superb on Wednesday night. Esteves showed signs of improvement, Morrison did what Morrison does and McIntyre slotted in effortlessly at left back and was arguably our biggest attacking threat too.

However, the fans had particular praise for one individual in particular: Tom Holmes.

He’s been Pauno’s Mr Reliable this season at right back, but has made the move back to his preferred centre back role in recent games, and on Wednesday night he looked seriously good against two talented forwards in Ayew and Lowe.

The fans are certainly loving what they’re seeing from Tom Holmes...

2021

The last game of the calendar year gave the fans a chance to reflect on what has been, as ever, a topsy-turvy 12 months at the Madejski. But it’s a year that, ultimately, has given us the chance to be optimistic and excited going into 2021.

Ending the year in the play-off positions after struggling with injuries to key players for the majority of the season is a fantastic return, and it’s laid the foundations for us to be in the play-off picture come the end of the season.

The fans were in a reflective mood, but also an optimistic one as they braced themselves for the New Year...

Conclusion

A very good end to a tough year, both on the pitch and off it. Hopefully 2021 brings brighter days. On a positive note, we have a club we can proud of again, a group of players who aren’t going to let us down and also have the quality to be near the top end of the table come May.

It’s going to be exciting.

URZ