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View From The Dolan: Open Warfare

Thoughts from Ben on an open, attacking game on Tuesday night that Reading edged.

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I’ll be honest, it was a last-minute decision to go. I feared the worst, expected even worse than the worst and just didn’t want to go. Without being dramatic, the reason I went to the game was because I wasn’t sure how many more games like this we’d see in terms of the club moving forward and the ownership issues. So I went.

I guess the one positive was that Charlie Savage was back in the starting line-up. Regardless of your stance on ability, formations etc, having players in and around the squad reportedly not being able to be played because of financial constraints is a joke.

On form? Fair enough, but no one could look at that midfield over the Christmas period and argue it didn’t need rotation. Hell, for the amount we were talking in terms of pay increases, I was close to paying it myself. Up to the value of one month’s increase. In instalments. Over five years.

As I made my way through the ultra urban metropolis of Reading Town, I noticed not one but two electronic signs notifying me of potential delays because of the game. Elite trolling by RBC that. Delays! More likely to be delays at the checkouts of B&M, let me tell you.

The conditions for football were rancid, at best. Swirling wind and clouds of water made the stands treacherous. I was half expecting to see some sort of sea creature waving its angry tentacles about but instead was met with empty blue seats and sadness.

Sat there in my seat, looking around at the barren wasteland of plastic flapping chairs, I guessed the attendance to be around 7,000. How the once-semi-mighty have fallen. Even Derby County couldn’t be bothered to bring enough fans to fill their stand.

The game was open warfare from an attacking sense, certainly in the first half. The early exchanges were interesting, with my concentration only waning around the 14th minute as I spotted stewards mobilising pitch-side like big fluorescent badgers. I assume this was to stop another pitch invasion, but realistically I don’t think that will happen again. I dread to think how much money the extra security cost for this game.

It wasn’t a bad first half, all things considered. We were in the game, keeping reasonable composure and being as proactive as we could be up top. On top of that, no one had fallen downstairs so all in all, it was ok.

That OK quickly turned into a “pretty decent” when we took the lead around 10 minutes after the break. Was it deserved? Is anything really deserved in this game anymore? You couldn’t begrudge us taking the lead I guess, but it was still welcome all the same.

Incredibly, and I say this because it’s not been the “norm” in most games, we were able to hold out and take all three delicious points. A much-needed win which sees us close the gap on the teams above us.

There’s still plenty of work to do, but this is a start. Keep the bulk of the squad together, develop that siege mentality and we might just stand a chance of being in League One again next season.

Until next time.