This season has arguably toyed with my emotions more than the last few years of relegation fights - and Wednesday night was no different. I was quietly confident going into the game, maybe not expecting a win but anticipating the players and Pauno to more than hold their own against the best team in the league. That in itself is such a refreshing thought and feeling to have going into games.
I was dreading the games against the likes of Brentford last season, and for good reason, but this season it’s pure excitement and optimism - along with the standard gut-wrenching nerves. And I know I'm not the only one in that boat.
The players didn’t let us down, but even so the night ended in heartbreak. What a gutting loss, but there are so many positives to take from the game. Sometimes the performance speaks louder than the result - it's just vitally important that we get back on the horse against Millwall on Saturday.
Here’s how the fans reacted to the last gasp defeat...
Morrison and McIntyre
I said in my player ratings that it’s strange for your two centre backs to be the men of the match after you’ve just conceded three goals. But for large proportions of the game, these two kept the best attack in the league quiet, including top marksman Ivan Toney.
McIntyre is growing into a seriously good centre back at this level, and Morro just always seems to be in the right place at the right time and has secured his status as Reading’s Mr Dependable.
The fans were buzzing with the performances of the two defenders, despite the end result...
can we appreciate how Tmac pocketed ‘The championships best ever striker’ for 85+ mins last night. Absolutely incredible performances recently. Hoping to see the contract extension ASAP. #ReadingFC— JL (@lockmann_jordan) February 11, 2021
#readingfc that goal is all about Morrison’s cross ball to ejaria— Alan Swift (@alandswift) February 10, 2021
Morrison MOTM by an absolute mile here. Experience showing #readingfc— Jake (@Jake_Moore89) February 10, 2021
McIntyre and Morrison brilliant tonight again. Will be interesting to see whether Moore comes straight back in when available. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) February 10, 2021
I love Liam Moore but he’s got a hell of a task getting in this team. McIntyre and Morro different class. #readingfc— Jake (@Jake_Moore89) February 10, 2021
Gutted but positive
Roy Keane won’t like me for saying this but I’m a firm believer that a performance can tell you a lot more about a team than a result. Of course, I was as gutted as the rest of you at full time but the amount of positives we can take from the game far, far outweigh the negatives.
If we play like that for the rest of the season, then the top six *should* be secured, and I for one back Pauno to continue to get the high levels of performance out of the players. We just have to win on Saturday now, because you just know if we don't the doubts will start to creep in.
Here’s how the fans summed up their feelings after the game...
Disappointing loss but a good performance. Thought we were set for a point even though Brentford came on strong in the 2nd half. In with a great shout of the play offs if we keep up that level of performance. #readingfc— Rob Molloy (@Dobchecks) February 10, 2021
One hell of an entertaining game tonight, top performance despite defeat - the mentality to go for the win throughout was great to see, just a little extra quality from Brentford in the last 5 minutes. Get a win on Saturday and we're still well in the promotion mix... #readingfc— Ben Greenwood (@BenMoGraph) February 10, 2021
Honestly, I’m gutted we didn’t get anything from that game. This team is more than capable of making play-offs. Brentford are a strong team and it was a hard ask from the get go but the effort and the performance made me proud to support this club. Onto Millwall. ⚪️ #ReadingFC— Taylor⚽️ (@TaylorStannett) February 10, 2021
Reflecting again on last night, yes obviously it was disappointing but we could all see it wasn't a bad performance against a very strong team right now. Also, look how far we've come in a short space of time, incredible progress since Paunović has come in #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) February 11, 2021
If and it’s a big if, we play this well for the rest of the season we still will have a sniff around the automatic spots. Didn’t deserve to lose tonight but I’m sure Brentford will be in the premier league next season. Very positive performance #readingfc— Ben1871 (@Ben18712) February 10, 2021
tough to take, but i’m so proud of our performance. so many positives to take. very harsh result, deserved so much more from that. but we move on, if we perform like that for the rest of the season we will be right up there #readingfc https://t.co/wGZa6chZwq— jord (@_jord19x) February 10, 2021
Looking back on yesterday’s game makes me hopeful, I was annoyed yesterday in the manner we lost but the performance overall was a very good one. We’ve got to see out games and play like that every game now. Consistency will be the reason why we are up there. #ReadingFC— DINGGGG (@LucasTurnet) February 11, 2021
idk about you but that is one of the first games in a long while that i’ve felt gutted at full time, shows how far paunovic has taken this group of players, gotta stay positive and aim for the play offs now #readingfc— JK-47 (@JoeIngledew13) February 10, 2021
Absolutely gutted to throw it away like we did . Point would have been massive. We go again Saturday. Must win against Millwall and go on another unbeaten run. Keep the faith #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) February 10, 2021
What a difference a year makes. Everyone gutted, just shows how far we've come. Lack of depth was probably the reasoning behind that. Onwards to Saturday and lets get back to winning ways #readingfc— Dan Gabriel (@DanG188) February 10, 2021
Absolutely gutted but what a game of football. Brentford’s strength & depth paid dividends in the end but we were superb & we can take so much encouragement for the rest of the season. Good luck to Brentford, let them run off with the league now, 2nd place up for grabs #readingfc— James East (@JamesEast16) February 10, 2021
Gutted about the result but the team is really going places keep the faith and keep looking out for each other urzzzz #readingfc— Johnny Hunt (@Huntyroyal) February 10, 2021
We have to be proud of that performance. Let’s please not forget that Brentford came within 90 minutes of the Premier League last season, are on a 20-game unbeaten run and have the league’s top goalscorer.
To be able to go toe to toe with them and more than hold our own for 90 minutes, in such a short space of time since the end of last season when the mood around the club was the most toxic it’s been in a long time, is nothing short of staggering. We have to give huge credit to Pauno and the players for that.
This season can still be a special one, keep the faith - we have our club back.
Must win on Saturday though.