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View From The Dolan: You Can Only Beat What’s In Front Of You

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A badly out-of-form Sheffield Wednesday side weren’t the toughest opposition, but Reading sealed the points with an enjoyable performance at the Mad Stad.

PA Images via Getty Images

Yet another northern franchise was placed in front of us to beat as our promotion juggernaut aimed to carry on down the dusty, cobbled road that is the Championship. Yet another team going nowhere very quickly and a different type of test was there for us to overcome as we welcomed the Owls of Sheffield Midweek to Berkshire.

After the workmanlike and robust wins over Rotherham and Blackburn, many fans were clamouring for an absolute pasting of the side from Hillsborough, but personally I just wanted another win, any which way. The newly appointed Darren Moore said before the game that we were “a wonderful advert for the Championship”. Ah, cheers babes! Indeed, his team arrived in the Costa Del South Reading bereft of points, confidence and direction. The Berkshire Dome was bathed in glorious sunlight and, for the second game in a row, Paunovic went with two up top, the first time that had happened at the club since the Titanic had been afloat, or so I’m told.

I felt confident pre-game and donned my 1/4 zip training top (navy colour - now a sparkling 50% off in the online fan market thingy) and meandered through the day like a British snake weaving its way through some thick corn fields in a rural village field. Basically, I did nothing of any great note and I’m not ashamed to say it because I’m generally a busy man and maximise my time effortlessly, so back off and don’t judge me.

A solid lunch of a seeded roll with cheese and pickle was washed down with a chilled pint of water and a banana for afters (or as the free folk say, pudding) and I was all set for a proper clash of the Titans! Well, more like an eagle (us) and a sparrow (them). Or *something that eats an owl* (us) and an owl (them). It was not hard to see why Wednesday were sinking like an old trainer filled with cement in a local pond: they had very little direction or style and, to be honest, it looks like Moore has been bought in to get them out of League One next season because that is exactly where they’re heading.

Reading v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

The deadlock was broken pretty early when Puscas found some space and was slashed down in the box. The official had zero choices on offer and had to send Borner for an early wash, thus awarding the Royals a 12-yard death kick in the process.

Twitter exploded (probably) as the thought of another miss from Lord Joao filtered into the brains of the Reading faithful, so Olise calmly and unfussily picked up the ball, gave it a wipe, blew on it, placed it gently on the spot, walked back a few spaces, stared at the ball, took one more step back, coughed, stepped toward the ball at speed, kicked the ball and rolled it gently into the net, sending the GK for a kebab. I’m not just saying this because he scored, but he had been the difference up until then and continued to be so in a game he absolutely dominated.

Borner then ripped his shirt (on purpose) like a man (or woman) who had gotten into the queue of a McDonald’s drive through at 10.58am, hoping to get his hungry hands on a McMuffin meal, only to see the car in front dither over its order and the boards change over to “normal menu” right in front of his (or her) teary and upset eyes. I wondered, both mentally and physically (I typed it in to Twitter) if he would have to pay for the shirt, because effectively, it’s vandalism, isn’t it?

At half time, I poured myself an ale (and no, I did not fall asleep like Tuesday, thank you) and drink in the happiness of its malty and fruity overtones, whilst watching the cat stalk a pigeon in the garden. A quick check of the table showed we were still fifth and that was ok. I was fine with that. I wasn’t disappointed at all, not was I expecting us to be higher. No, as I said, I was fine with that.

The second half began in much the same vein as the first ended. Wednesday were all over the shop, although they did show some glimpses of knowing how to pass the ball. Holmes charged forward and shot just wide and I gasped out loud like a tuna gathering its breath before submerging back into the Atlantic waters which it inhabited. A gorgeous, and I mean gorgeous, second goal was slammed in by Joao after some quite delicious work from Olise and a lovely overlap from Yiadom.

And then a swathe (love that word) of changes from both teams disrupted the game slightly. It felt good to be in a position to take some players off and I felt calm and relaxed, so much so that I could focus on something else whilst the football was on in the background. That something else was planning my week ahead (as I said earlier, I’m a man who maximises my time fully). To my horror, I realised there was no midweek game! I felt a bit sick in my tummy at the thought of having to wait a week to see this team in action again.

Yiadom wrapped up the scoring just before the end of the game, a period which also saw Femi Azeez make his debut. There’s probably some great stat somewhere which says, oh, I don’t know, something like... Femi Azeez making his debut today means that, of everyone to play for #ReadingFC’s first team this season in all competitions, most have come through the academy: 51%. But I wouldn’t know for sure because I don’t really do stats and if I don’t know, I certainly don’t steal other people’s tweets, or worse, people who tweet and write for the same fan site as I do.

3-0 was, basically, a perfect score line. You can only beat what’s in front of you and yes, Wednesday were about as effective as Ron Gourlay is at managing people and finances, but even so we still had to do the job. The game also confirmed, once again, that this team are a lot of fun to watch.

We have some cracking players who, in some cases, are only just beginning their footballing careers. After a bit of a blip, they are showing so much confidence and ability to keep getting these results and stay in the mix of the play-offs. Credit to Pauno and his staff also for not pressing the big red button marked “overreact” and sticking with the players and coaching them through it. A reunion with that Midlands-based club that no one likes awaits us. Next Saturday. My only message to the team would be to just keep winning.

Until next time.