We got a vital win last week against Coventry City, but even the most optimistic Loyal Royal would have to say we rode our luck on a few occasions. I think it's fair to say that luck ran out on Friday night - particularly in the opening 45.
The overall performance really wasn’t that bad, but a clumsy deflection from Mamadou Loum, a lunge in the box from Naby Sarr and a complete air kick from Amadou Mbengue had us 3-0 down at half time. And if you gift your opposition three goals, you can't expect to get anything from the game.
The second half was better and it was good to see we showed a bit of fight. But it's hard to say we deserved anything from the game.
Here’s what the fans had to say about a tale of two halves...
The half-time scoreline could fool people into thinking we were completely outclassed in the opening 45, laid down and got our tummy tickled. But that wasn’t the case. We made three basic mistakes and got punished for them.
There’s not much Paul Ince can do when his players make basic individual errors like that. We know what the game plan would’ve been: keep it tight and make the most of our moments. But within 30 seconds we’ve conceded and the game plan is up in the air.
The fans were rather frustrated with the mistakes made in the first half...
We’ve literally gifted three goals. Please Paul, take the squad down to a few Sunday league games this weekend, so they can see how the absolute basics of defending work. #readingfc https://t.co/a9mtKmh4AY— Trenchy (@AdamHumphries96) December 16, 2022
The state of this defending ♂️#readingfc pic.twitter.com/GOIV54hxf4— Milo (@MiloRoyal1871) December 16, 2022
Shocking defending, all three goals have been questionable. Switched off for nearly all three of them #readingfc— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) December 16, 2022
So many individual mistakes, mindless by Sarr. #readingfc— Royals Stu (@RoyalStu1871) December 16, 2022
How are we making this many mistakes? Ince needs to ring a couple changes to wake the rest of them up #readingfc— Max Howard (@MaxHoward_15) December 16, 2022
I haven't seen so many mistakes in one game before, ridiculous display #readingfc— Todd-ED (@TED247) December 16, 2022
2 stinking mistakes and a penalty that shouldn't have been. Out of absolutely nothing we're 3-0 down. Dreadful, Birmingham have done precisely nothing to be in front in a comfortable lead. Very frustrating, our overall play hasn't been bad but some very poor mistakes #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) December 16, 2022
Our defending has been nothing short of embarrassing so far, absolutely pathetic #readingfc— Dan (@DanTheMan__98) December 16, 2022
Atrocious defending. Calamitous pack of individual errors costing us once again. Not much ince can do about those shocking mistakes. The players need to show some professionalism from the first minute. Pointless 1 minute from the end. #readingfc— Dan Hindmarsh (@DH_Editz) December 16, 2022
Mixed opinions on the performance
My personal opinion is that we’ve played a lot worse this season and won games, a la Coventry last weekend. I understand a performance can't be that great when you’re 3-0 down at half time, but we were 3-0 down because of individual errors, rather than a lack of cohesion or just a poor team performance.
However, and as ever, there were differing views among the Loyal Royals - some agreeing that there are positives to take and some not so much.
Here’s what the fans had to say about the performance...
Positives: didn’t completely capitulate. Loum far better. Players who need goals got goals. Goal difference could actually be crucial in a league this tight - that end could help. And like Sheff Utd & Rotherham, at least we’ve used lots of mistakes up in one hit, eh? #readingfc— Matt Williams (@mattwilliams100) December 16, 2022
As a whole that was a very good performance, best I’ve seen in a long while. Just three individual errors cost us early on. Guinness-Walker has to start over Baba. #readingfc https://t.co/QeTcghGWY0— Ed Ryding (@EdRyding) December 16, 2022
To the Reading fans currently losing their minds, you are cordially reminded that we’ve played FAR worse than this and won this season.— Greg Double (@Dubstep1988) December 16, 2022
Championship gonna championship. #readingfc
Good response second half but pathetic defending cost us. NGW has to come in for Baba next week #readingfc— Lee Wyeth (@leewyeth) December 16, 2022
The 2 sides of Reading FC, Coventry defended very well and we got the win. Yesterday 3 silly mistakes defensively cost us some points. Good to see we made it look respectable in the second half. #readingfc— Steven Kemp (@StevenK37506094) December 17, 2022
Better second half, cut out the errors and it’s a close game prior to 94 minutes. MBengue and Sarr were terrible, thought Meite did well. Personally feel a few didn’t look up to it in the cold #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) December 17, 2022
The shambolic defending aside we weren’t that bad tonight. Maybe Birmingham let us look better but that was far from as bad as other games this season. No positives in a loss but we’ve been far worse #readingfc— Marlin28 (@Marlin2811) December 16, 2022
Meite the only one to come away with some credit there. First time I’ve left a game early and with good reason with that performance #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) December 16, 2022
If you put 11 random players together who’ve never met each other before, this is what it looks like. We won’t go down and that will be mission accomplished, but boy can we put in a poor performance. #readingfc— Simon Latson (@SimonLatson) December 16, 2022
It's kind of mad that anyone who plays for Reading is seen as some kinda hero for 'only' taking max 8K a week. This performance is worth 8k a year. #readingfc— Alex (@Pickettlickett) December 16, 2022
As Greg Double’s tweet in the section above states, ‘Championship gonna Championship’. We have and will play worse and win games, and we have and will play better and lose them.
We didn’t deserve to win the game; you can't make three mistakes like that and expect to come out of the game with anything. But we showed a reaction in the second half and if those goals would’ve come five or 10 minutes earlier, you just never know.