Gareth Southgate’s England team gave us the best summer of football we’ve had in decades a few months ago, but I for one am glad the international break just gone is the last until next March. I'm sure I’m not alone in that boat.
The last few weeks have been tough for the club and us fans, but it’s always good to be back at the SCL stadium - right? The latest return saw in-form Nottingham Forest come to town, and a tale of two halves entailed.
The first half, or at least the few minutes of the first half, was nowhere near good enough. Again, we started in the worst possible way. Zingernackel strolled through a couple of half-hearted tackles before thumping home.
That was the ugly bit, but there were good bits to go with it. Overall, the response to going behind was good, again. Scott Dann managed to bag a leveller, but a winner was just asking a bit too much this time around.
The fans’ reaction mirrored the 90 minutes of football really: very mixed...
I think it’s fair to say that the last two club games haven't been the finest for the skipper. He was at fault for Hogan’s opener against Blues, and on Saturday he was culpable again for Forest’s goal.
He got caught in no-mans land a little before dangling a leg out which Zinckernagel breezed past with ease on his way to opening the scoring.
Moore did redeem himself later on in the game though as he managed to get back in time to clear a Grabban shot off the line. But being taken off at the 60-minute mark summed up the last couple of games.
I think it’s fair to say the fans have took note of his dip in form...
As people have pointed out, Moore made an incredible block on the line yesterday (Forest should have scored) but that doesn’t change how awful he played. Too easy for the goal, couldn’t control the ball on the halfway & lost it, turned easy & booked, he was terrible #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) November 21, 2021
Moore didn’t look with it today either. Maybe he just needs to sit out a couple and recuperate #readingfc— BerkshireBoys (@BerkshireBoys_) November 20, 2021
Liam Moore had a very poor half. Awful defending for the goal. But we’ve had chances. If we can keep going forward like this we can get a couple of goals with a bit more luck. The defending has to improve though. #readingfc— Trenchy (@AdamHumphries96) November 20, 2021
No way Liam Moore was solely to blame for that. Comical organisation in midfield left the defense exposed. #readingfc— Will (@Teapotstagram) November 20, 2021
Moore again .... #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) November 20, 2021
Liam Moore to be the first one of the wage bill no where near good enough anymore #readingfc— Grant Oxlade (@GrantOxlade_RFC) November 20, 2021
Liam Moore should stand down for a while , have a look at our past games 70 per cent of goals conceded are something to do with him. Better second half and a good point in the end. #Readingfc— Russell Beaven (@RussellBeaven) November 20, 2021
This was what we were all waiting for in the run-up to the game really. Last week was one full of drama, nothing more dramatic than the signing of Andy Carroll on a two-month contract.
He entered the fray for the aforementioned Liam Moore, and immediately made an impact. As soon as he stepped onto the pitch, the fans rose to their feet, and didn't stop chanting his name for about 10 minutes.
He was involved in winning the corner that led to Dann’s equaliser. If this short cameo is a glimpse of things to come, this signing might turn out to be a bit of a masterstroke. The fans certainly loved it...
‘Andy Carroll Du du du du’ being sang all around the madejski. This is unbelievable #readingfc pic.twitter.com/I4tDWrMdha— Micah (@1871M1C4H) November 20, 2021
You could see the belief in the side once Andy Carroll came on, good to have a genuine goal threat again #readingfc— Chris (@ChrissRFC) November 20, 2021
Garbage until Carroll came on, changed the game and in the end probably a deserved point #readingfc— Mark Sugar (@marksugar) November 20, 2021
Thought the big man, AC, big AC was good today and lifted the team and the fans - but also we saw the first instance of something I was hoping would happen: the fact it’s Andy Carroll meant oppo defence adjusted and were careful to cover him. That alone helps us #readingfc— @SelectCarLeasing-fon (@shakefon) November 20, 2021
Thought Andy Carroll’s impact was huge! Gave the lift the fans needed! Puscas looked more up for it as part of a 2! Much better second half #readingfc— BerkshireBoys (@BerkshireBoys_) November 20, 2021
Thought we could’ve won that when we got the equaliser but I’ll still take the point. Decent performance as well especially in the second half, Carroll coming on gave us a different option. #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) November 20, 2021
Atmosphere when Andy Carroll came on was incredible. Amazing what how one player boost the atmosphere around the ground after coming on as a sub #readingfc— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) November 20, 2021
The third big talking point from Saturday was yet another individual performance - this time from Tom Holmes, who seemed to be the pick for man of the match for most of the Loyal Royals.
Holmes has been in and out of the team so far this season, and more out than in to be honest. Most of that is by no means his fault, he has been one of the many to visit the treatment room.
However, on Saturday he more than made his mark and may have worked his way up the pecking order in the process. The fans love him already as he’s one of our own, but Saturday’s showing impressed them even more...
I think we need to give credit to Tom Holmes. I thought he did great today.— Blue And White Wall (@bluewhitewall) November 20, 2021
But we need to mention how great that loan move was for him at K.S.V. Roeselare. He has come back and put in lots of good performances for us.#ReadingFC #OneOfOurOwn pic.twitter.com/CiPQW4g7Ba
Tom Holmes my MOTM, absolute unit today #REAFOR #ReadingFC— Alex (@alexshepherdd) November 20, 2021
I’m such a big Tom Holmes fan, he’ll be a Premier League defender and he actually reminds me of Dickie. He’s young so will have bad moments but he’s a class talent. Club have to sort him out ASAP as he’s our future and if he goes we need a good price #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) November 21, 2021
Holmes was so solid yesterday, haven’t seen much said about his performance. #ReadingFC— Blue Army (@TwoTeam_FC) November 21, 2021
Tom Holmes had his best game in a #readingfc shirt. Immense today.— David H Esq. (@DaveNorthStand) November 20, 2021
Tom Holmes MOTM, what a performance for the guy! #readingfc— Todd-ED (@TED247) November 20, 2021
@Tom5Mc can you tell your boy Holmes to sign da ting. Unreal today #readingfc— CM (@ronniemac93) November 20, 2021
A bit of a rollercoaster of a 90 minutes: there were things to be impressed with, and more than enough things to improve on. Again we showed good character and strength to come from behind, but we shouldn’t have to be in that position to begin with.
The defending for the Forest goal was really poor, maybe a rethink at the back is needed from Pauno. Should Liam Moore sit the next few games out? Should he bring Holmes in at centre back next to Dann from the off? Should he go to the 4-4-2 that made us so much more threatening int he second half, but also left us quite open in midfield?
All will be answered on Tuesday I guess. URZ.