I think Tuesday’s game was as close as you could possibly get to a ‘must win’ this early on in the season. The mood was sour after Saturday’s loss to Port Vale, and for good reason. The fans needed a reaction and they got it.
Selles made seven (yes, seven) changes to the team from Saturday, bringing in plenty of the youngsters who won so convincingly at the Den last week - and boy did they impress again.
It was a huge win (slightly soured by Wednesday’s news of a one-point deduction) that we very much needed. Here’s how the fans reacted to the key talking points.
The starting lineup
The fans wanted changes after the debacle at Vale Park and they got them. It was a brave team selection from Ruben Selles, who picked near enough the same team from the Millwall game, apart from not using Coniah Boyce-Clarke and Tivonge Rushesha, with David Button and Charlie Savage preferred.
The players repaid his faith with a much, much better performance than the second half on Tuesday and, ultimately, our first league win since the back end of February.
The fans were grinning from ear to ear at circa 7pm Tuesday night when the team sheet was released...
Majority of fans quite rightly pleased by the team selection tonight.— RoyalGobbler (@ReadingFC19) August 15, 2023
Win or lose, hopefully this is a line in the sand. From now on, every position is up for grabs and players are picked on form alone. Also, it’s about bloody time we leveraged our academy talent #readingfc
The best thing about the team news this evening. Is that if you continue to underperform you will get dropped.— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) August 15, 2023
Holmes has been a liability at the back for a while now and should have been dropping last season.
Hope the kids can show the senior players how's it's done #readingfc
Many players impressed on Tuesday night, but none more so than stand-in skipper Nelson Abbey. He was given a rest on Saturday after his stoic showing at Millwall, but surely now the left-centre-back spot is his to lose.
I must be honest, I hadn’t seen a huge amount of Abbey before this season, but he looks the real deal. Strong, lightning quick and really comfortable on the ball. And also a Reading lad, which always helps.
He’s taken to first-team football like a duck to water, and the fans have been impressed...
#readingfc Mark Bowen please give Nelson Abbey a new three year deal. He is going to be some player.— Mike (@MikePea73444529) August 15, 2023
Nelson Abbey is our new capitán and I won’t hear or accept otherwise. Assured on the ball, quick, dominant. Absolute beast. #readingfc— Thomas (@rfctom) August 15, 2023
Nelson Abbey with the best centre back play from a Reading player since first-season Liam Moore back in 2016. Truly dominant. Serious player #readingfc— Alex Stone (@alexgstone15) August 15, 2023
nelson abbey needs a new long term contract …. pass it on #readingfc— Gavin Smith (@gavpsmith) August 15, 2023
A win at last
It’s been a long, long time coming, but we finally got a +3 in the points column. In true Reading FC style, one of those points was knocked off on Wednesday (a painful reminder of the dark cloud still hovering over the club), but a win is a huge boost for confidence and morale nonetheless.
The performance actually followed a similar pattern of the first two games I thought: bright first half with a drop-off in performance levels in the second. However, this time, thanks to a much better defensive performance and a pretty toothless opposition, we managed to see out the win.
The fans were certainly relieved after a long wait for a league win...
Ah, you can't beat the sweet smell of a win in the morning. #ReadingFC— Bobbins (@ohbobbins) August 16, 2023
Forgot what it was like to win a league game. On the whole really good performance, only concern is we need to start scoring more. Mbengue, Abbey, Bindon & Carson absolute rocks at the back #readingfc— Louis (@dinglouis_) August 15, 2023
Very important win that. Far from a spectacle but huge 3 pts. Hopefully only improve from here. Thought abbey especially was excellent #readingfc— Luke Thurlow (@luke_1871) August 15, 2023
First win in 15 and an even longer time since I’ve seen a Reading team play with that energy and enthusiasm. It wasn’t perfect but we had a spark and a team to be proud of. Roll on Saturday! #readingfc— Jordan Norris (@jordy_norr1s) August 15, 2023
At last a league win! Kudos to Selles for making the big call and to the young players for stepping up again. #readingfc— Rob Molloy (@Dobchecks) August 15, 2023
What a feeling to win.— Dan Hindmarsh (@DH_Editz) August 15, 2023
To be super critical we do need to start scoring #readingfc
A really good result and a performance that showed character and fight to dig in and get all three points. The youngsters showed maturity beyond their years and were fully deserving of the win.
Next up, another home game against newly promoted Stevenage who have started the season in fine form. Another tough test. URZ.