After what has been a pretty successful festive period - going unbeaten and managing to climb out of the relegation zone before last weekend’s results - the last few days have been a bit of a reality check.
First, the redundancies of Andrew Sparks and Eddie Niedzwiecki brought to light the horrible situation our club is in off the pitch yet again. Then, as just mentioned, we moved back into the relegation zone, and now we’ve just witnessed one of the lowest points of the season so far: a penalty shootout loss to Brighton’s under-21s.
Let’s be clear: this is a game we should have won comfortably, but we hardly got out of neutral, let alone first gear, and deserved what we got.
Here’s how the fans reacted to the result and the performance...
An embarrassing defeat
Let’s call a spade a spade: it’s a really embarrassing defeat. Not just the result (the team Ruben Selles put out should’ve easily beat Brighton’s youngsters), but the manner in which we lost was extremely disappointing.
We didn’t play well at all, and I don’t like accusing players of complacency or a lack of professionalism, but the way in which we lost has led a lot of fans to that conclusion...
That was absolutely embarrassing.— Adam GC Jones (@ajonesrfc) January 9, 2024
Players should hang their heads in shame.
It may only be the EFL Trophy but that was an abysmal display with a real lack of quality.#readingfc
Truly a new low (on the pitch) for this club. Embarrassing #readingfc— Ben (@BenParsons89) January 9, 2024
If we don’t stay up and have exited two cups losing to lower level competition then it’s even more embarrassing. Club really is at an all time low. #readingfc— Harry Sands (@SarryHands) January 9, 2024
Not good enough at all. Should be putting that game to bed in the 90 minutes, but those penalties were awful. At least put it on target! #readingfc— Lewis Radbourne (@lewisradbourne1) January 9, 2024
Losing to Eastleigh & Brighton’s U21 team in the cups…a new low? A complete embarrassment which ever way you look at it #readingfc— Jeff H (@jphallett7) January 9, 2024
People are right in saying it doesn’t mean much, and we can focus on the league, but that’s besides the point.— Arnie (@arnie_rfc) January 9, 2024
We lost to an academy side who were awful. Our standards are continually falling, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. #ReadingFC
Pretty much our first team beaten by a bunch of kids. Another new low. #readingfc— Mark Harding (@markharding1988) January 9, 2024
RFC going out tonight with a whimper. A new low (again) #readingfc— Stevie p (@stevie_p1871) January 9, 2024
A missed opportunity
One of the main reasons Tuesday’s result disapointed the fans so much is that the Deep Pan Meat Feast Pizza With Stuffed Crust Cup was a genuine opportunity for us to have some relative success this season.
Of course it wouldn’t have cured all, or any for that matter, of our problems - but if there’s a fanbase that deserves a trip to Wembley or something to be proud of, it’s us. But no, the players made sure that wasn’t going to be the case in an-all-too familiar style.
Now all focus is on trying to stay on League One, but the fans really wanted that trip to Wembley...
Feels a lot of fans who werent at the game last night are quick to dismiss the loss— hugh rfc vandel'isle (@HughIsle) January 10, 2024
The cup this year was a chance to get to Wembley & we'd been brilliant up til last night, given the last 5 years following Reading the day out would've been what the fanbase needed#readingfc
I dont care about any opinions on the competition itself, losing to any U21 side with a majority of 1st team players shows a lack of professionalism in our mentality.— Brightside (@BrightsideRFC) January 10, 2024
That was a great opportunity to work towards Wembley and give us fans something to actually celebrate #readingfc
That was a pathetic performance from Reading, had a great chance to go on in the competition but a half assed effort this evening #readingfc— James Grant (@jamesgrant1992) January 9, 2024
Those players just cranked up the pressure on themselves.— Paul Williams (@PaulFrankfurt71) January 9, 2024
That was nothing short of arrogant tonight. Just assumed they would score. Get the mindset of playing away to an u21 side in an empty stadium is tough but jeez.
Great chance at a Trophy thrown away.#readingfc
I know this competition doesn’t mean much but after the last few years we’ve had a day out at Wembley and maybe some silverware would’ve been lovely, so disappointing #readingfc https://t.co/tWQonWirhO— ThriftyCal (@thrifty_cal) January 9, 2024
A real chance to make it to Wembley wasted.... #readingfc— kieran_34g (@JRGingyFraud) January 9, 2024
Another damning day in our season. This club has a horrible knack of nipping any kind of reason to be optimistic in the bud and bringing you crashing straight back down to earth.
I guess we have to try and look on the bright side, and at least we can now put our full focus into trying to stay in League One which, as much as a trip out to Wembley would’ve been nice, is and always has been our number one priority this season.