When I was asked to write this by someone who shall remain nameless because they, and I quote, “wanted to have some ciders”, I went full Roy Keane when Jamie Carragher refused to put Ryan Giggs in that combined-team thing. At that point, of course, a loss was incoming.
I suppose really the first avenue to walk down was the team selection. There's literally no point in taking the young players away from a cup final if they are going to sit on a bench in Luton, so straight off the bat that pissed me off.
And then of course, I got the news that inflatables weren’t allowed in. Of course, I like everyone else got it far too late to do anything about it. Inflatable day is lols and to rob our fans of that opportunity, given the season we’ve had, is basically criminal. I hope Luton lose in the playoffs as a result.
Of course, 30 seconds in and the writing was probably on the wall. A good stop from Orjan Nyland prevented the hosts from taking the lead within the first minute and stopped the proverbial flood gates opening.
The opening exchanges were interesting and engaging but not completely inspiring from a Reading point of view. The Hatters were up for it but weren’t taking their chances to cement their play-off places and we were hanging on in there. A meaty challenge on Junior Hoilett brought the worst from my mouth in terms of language (how dare they!) but he got up and continued.
And then, of course, the goal arrived. Some good work again from Nyland was obliterated in a single moment: Cornick was hovering behind him like a crisp packet in a lay-by, the Norwegian failed to look behind, he threw the ball down and had his pocket completely and utterly picked by the striker to put the hosts one up.
Yeah, I’m sure Nyland felt awful, but it’s an absolute basic fundamental of goalkeeping that he failed to adhere to and he (also the team) paid the full price for it. It’s up there with foul throws for me - it should never happen in a game in this era. It’s not the 1970s is it?
With the second half came more nonsense from the commentary team and in particular a certain Mr Goodman. Within a minute, he’d said he “expected more from Reading”. This was probably the only time I had and would ever agree with him. “You and me both mate” I muttered.
Jerome hit the crossbar on 51 minutes which actually turned out to be a good save from Nyland but we were looking vulnerable yet again. Much like the first half, no one in midfield fancied getting a hold of the ball, which was obviously ideal and Luton continued to apply the pressure.
The only bright spot really was seeing Rashawn Scott come on (who later made the bench against Ascot in the Berks and Bucks final) and do well, along with some nice touches from Kelvin Abrefa when he too arrived on the pitch. The game was basically dead when the hosts realised they had made the playoffs and that was that, the season was done.
You know in ‘DIY SOS’ when Nick Knowles asks the family to close their eyes and then takes them into their new house to see what’s happened? Well this season and squad is the old house while the summer and July 30 - the start of next season - is the new house. Who Nick Knowles is in this metaphor, I don’t know, but that’s the kind of change we need this summer. Knock it down, rebuild it, put some nice taps in both bathrooms and retile everything. Nothing else will do.
Ince talked about wanting to keep six or seven players. God knows who he was talking about based on this display, but those players (whoever they are) need to be the spine of the team next season. Otherwise, it’s utterly pointless keeping them.
Have a good summer - we all bloody deserve it.