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Reading 1-2 Fleetwood: Sinking Ever Deeper

Dom Ballard equalised for Reading in the second half after Fleetwood had taken an early lead, but they restored it late on to inflict a miserable, depressing defeat.

Waste strike turns east London into mass garbage dump Photo by Burak Bir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

I’m really at a bit of a loss for words to be honest. But I’m going to ramble on a bit anyway - with the precursor that, while this will be focused on the Fleetwood game specifically, it will be laced with heavy undertones of apathy, anger and discontent and just how pathetic a state this club is in.

First and foremost, if you’re losing away from home on a regular basis - which we seem to be doing if you hadn’t noticed - you need to win your home games. It’s a must. Particularly those games where you come up against a team down in the relegation zone with you.

What you absolutely must not do is concede in the first 90 seconds. It was one of those moments, which we’ve had plenty of in recent years, that just summed up the dire straits this club is in. It was a good finish, and nine times out of 10 at this level, a shot like that probably falls easily into the arms of David Button or is spooned well over the bar. But nope, of course it found its way into the bottom corner. Because of course it would, wouldn’t it?

What followed in the first half was nothing short of depressing. The visitors went on to hit the post and force Button into a point-blank save as they looked a hundred times hungrier and more dangerous than us, as our players plodded around the pitch exuding all the exuberance and enthusiasm of a bowl of wilted spinach. That is to say they looked limp, dejected and sapped of any kind of solidity or substance.

Ruben Selles tried to change things early on as it became evident, again, that his 4-2-2-2 just wasn’t quite clicking, by switching up the formation and.. oh, wait, hang on. He just subbed off Mamadi Camara for Femi Azeez.

I did a piece not too long ago actually actively encouraging Selles to stick to his guns and be stubborn with his formation. There is still part of me that thinks that, and I may believe that even more when I wake up tomorrow morning having slept on the debacle that was this evening. However, I must admit I didn’t quite envisage him being this stubborn, and it getting this bad. I really, really want Selles to succeed and turn things around. But we’ve read this script before, haven’t we?

The end of the first 45 was met with the expected chorus of boos, and on we went into the second half. It was a bit of a brighter start to the half actually, not that it could get any worse. And after Dom Ballard had missed a chance that genuinely beggared belief, he made amends and tapped home form a yard out after some good work from Sam Smith.

I mean, we’d been god awful, and being 3-0 down would’ve flattered us, let alone pegging it back to 1-1, but hey - beggars cannot be choosers and we needed these three points, by hook or by crook.

More chances came and went - Charlie Savage thundered a strike against the post after Harvey Knibbs had been prevented by a last-ditch block - and the faint flicker of hope that had been ignited by Ballard’s goal slowly started to dwindle. And mere minutes after Harlee Dean had hit the post himself, Josh Vela licked his fingers and put out the flicker once and for all. Finding himself with the ball far too easily in our box (because that’s what just happens to opposition players when they play against us) he dispatched past Button and won the game for the visitors.

It is incredible, simply incredible, how we constantly find whole new levels of rock bottom. How many times in the last few years have we thought “it can’t get any worse than this?” How many times have we said “that’s the worst 90 minutes of football I’ve seen in a long time?” How many times have we said “something needs to change”? If it wasn’t so heartbreakingly, gut-wrenchingly, agonisingly painful, it would be quite funny. It’s got an air of slapstick about it.

We look like a club with nowhere to go and no way out. There aren’t even any signs that our fortunes will change on the pitch any time soon. It all looks horribly sour and bleak.

We could sack the manager, but we’ve done that before and it’s not exactly like that plan’s worked. Also, who on earth in their right mind would take on this job? Genuinely if someone actively wanted to come to this club at the moment, I’d refer them to a psychiatrist.

Other than all of that, it’s all hunky-dory. And I for one can’t wait to see the mighty Reading host the league leaders this Saturday! Who’s with me?