I’m sure the fans were feeling a lot of different things in the run-up to Saturday afternoon’s meeting with Rotherham United - fear, nervousness and hope all probably included in that - but in the end, the overriding emotion of the day was, thankfully, relief.
It was never going to be the kind of game where we went and put three past The Millers, playing some beautiful football in the process, but sometimes these kinds of win - 1-0, all hands to the pump, scrappy wins - are even sweeter.
It’s a sweet win because the players showed all of the characteristics that they got criticised for not showing on Tuesday against Wycombe. When you play the teams fighting for their lives at the bottom, you’ve got to match that fight - which we did on Saturday. When you do that and combine that with little moments of quality that they may not have, you’ve got a good chance of winning the game.
Yes, we could've scored more - Joao being guilty of missing two or three big chances, although, for the record I was very impressed with his hold-up play and the fact his head didn’t drop when things started going against him - but we got a win and a clean sheet. You can’t complain at that.
Here’s how the fans reacted...
Michael Morrodona. When the going gets tough, you need your tough players to get you going. And Michael Morrison is definitely one of those.
Mr Reliable is a consistently thrown-around cliche, and I’ve heard fans use it for Morrison before, but I think that’s underestimating his importance. He’s a rock, an absolute warrior and a key part of this team and this club.
He’s got a record of being a goalscoring centre back, and this one is probably his most important yet - and he backed it up with a heroic defensive performance alongside Moore too.
The fans certainly love Morro, how could they not?
Any road, #ReadingFC registered a clean sheet again this afternoon and the main architect of that clean sheet, Michael Morrison, also scored the winning goal.— Mick Day (@MickDay99) February 27, 2021
Great win today and for me from what I’ve seen Morrison is up there for player of the season #readingfc— adam bicknell (@bicknell_adam) February 27, 2021
Better believe Michael Morrison scores goals #readingfc— Ewan Sparrow (@ewan_sparrow) February 27, 2021
I know we say it week in week out but what a piece of business Morrison on a free transfer was. #ReadingFC— joely (@dingjoely) February 27, 2021
The boy’s an absolute star. And he’s so, so much better as a number 10, Saturday proved that.
His ability to pick up possession just behind the opposition midfield on the half turn and drive at defences is a joy to watch, and the amount of times you see him run down what looks like a dead end, only for him to dink it past the defender and find a team mate is ridiculous.
He should’ve also had the assist of the season on Saturday with an outrageous pass through to Joao - honestly, people don't understand how hard it is to pull off a pass like that - but the striker fluffed his lines.
The fans are loving watching Olise play in the blue and white hoops, well I urge them to soak it all in, because it won’t be a luxury we have for very long...
Regardless of how Reading played that was an important win. Olise is so much better playing at number 10 because he can create so much more from an offensive point of view.— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) February 27, 2021
Great to see Richards back to his best also I thought he was fantastic #readingfc
What a ball by Olise— Imran Escőbar (@razor5edge) February 27, 2021
That was like David Silva to Dzeko at Old Trafford. If only Joao could have finished like Dzeko. #readingfc
Moaned about him midweek, but Olise is having a great game so far #readingfc— Jack Roberts (@jackaroberts95) February 27, 2021
There were definitely elements of the game that fans weren't happy with, and Pauno would’ve also spotted them too - most notably the failure to kill the game off when we had chances to go even further in front.
But, in reality, all that ever mattered on Saturday was coming away with three more points than we arrived there with - and the players delivered that.
The fans expected and deserved a reaction, and on the whole, they got that. The task now is to get those back-to-back wins, as we host out of form Blackburn on Tuesday.
The fans were delighted, but relieved with the win...
Huge huge win after Tuesday- that will give the players a massive boost. Played fairly well as well; defending well and created chances just need to work on finishing them. #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) February 27, 2021
Could be a very big win. We had to work very hard for that. #readingfc— Trenchcoat (@AdamHumphries96) February 27, 2021
good win that, had to cling on in the end after missing a lot of good chances. really need to improve on that. but a win is a win & it’s a good response after tuesday. onto blackburn #readingfc— ً (@_jord19x) February 27, 2021
Scrappy and not the most convincing performance but a win is the most important thing. Hopefully we can put a bit of a run together now #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) February 27, 2021
‘PaUNoVic OUt’ It wasn’t the most convincing but we gave 110% and were solid at the back. Massive massive win. Up the ding ⚪️. #ReadingFC— Taylor⚽️ (@TaylorStannett) February 27, 2021
Much needed win. Not the easiest game on the eye but we were up for the battle. Onto midweek! #readingfc— James Earnshaw (@JamesEarnshaw10) February 27, 2021
Massive win that in light of recent results, probably first time since QPR away we won a bit ugly. In truth should've killed it off first half, but results have gone our way and two home games to come - chance to rebuild momentum. URZ!#readingfc— Sean (@sean_rich96) February 27, 2021
Echoing what the majority have said, really massive 3 points for #readingfc today. After a massive blow in midweek, it was a bigger task then required but we stood up to it well. As Pauno has just said to BBC Berks, ‘it was the hardest one [win] yet’— Sam Hudspith (@samhudspith24) February 27, 2021
Who cares how we won top 6 sides know how to win ugly #readingfc— Scott Graham (@ScottGraham_10) February 27, 2021
At this stage of the season all you have to do is win games.— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) February 27, 2021
Done that today. Onto blackburn. Enjoy your saturday ladies abd gents. #readingfc
An assuring, relieving win. But a win that will only carry significance if we back it up again on Tuesday, fail to win that and you feel we’re back to square one.
Huge challenge for the players now to keep some form and build some momentum, with the business end of the season getting closer, and closer.