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Reading FC's 2014 In Review: Part 1

So that was 2014 folks, enjoy it? It's been a year full of ups and downs, dramatic goals, calamitous errors, joys, frustrations and plenty more. Here's the first part of our 2014 year in review.

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

JANUARY

Reading entered 2014 on a miserable run that had seen them lose three on the bounce and win just three games since mid October (sound familiar?). A fourth consecutive defeat seemed on the cards before Stephen Kelly popped up with an unlikely equaliser to salvage a point. Reporting on the match Jonny noted a complaint that would only build over the next 12 months....

"The FA Cup comes up next, and a visit to the Amex to face Brighton. Whatever happens there, the positive spin will be "a good chance to build momentum" or "one less worry". But there's no momentum and too many worries around the club at the moment - we'll need some more January heroics to push on and make this season a success."

As it happened that FA Cup tie offered no momentum or joy as Reading were easily dispatched 1-0 by Brighton.

Just when things seemed their very darkest and with rumours of a dressing room meeting to sort things out,  a man with a beard appeared to make things all seem right. Kaspars Gorkss scored to give us a win at Watford and from that point on we finally looked like a team who could click, smashing Bolton 7-1 and Blackpool 5-1 in between a defeat at Portman Road. Adam Le Fondre scored six goals along the way, helping him pick up the Championship's Player of the Month award.

Alfie's future was also a constant topic of discussion in the media, with Hoops delving into his future options, while fellow striker Jason Roberts hinted at retirement after a long injury battle.

The January transfer window opened and closed with Reading failing to make a signing but with fans slowly realising the club's perilous financial state, holding on to Alex McCarthy, Garath McCleary and Adam Le Fondre seemed a battle won.

"If the point of the January window is to get stronger, Reading have certainly done that. Have they put themselves into a dominant position? Perhaps not but it's hard to argue that the club have had anything but a successful month."

Tilehurst End Player of the Month:  Adam Le Fondre

FEBRUARY

The Royals started February where they'd left off in January with a convincing 3-0 win at Millwall to earn a fourth win in five games.

While an early Alex Pearce penalty/red-card combo thwarted hopes against struggling Sheffield Wednesday, the defender had his suspension overturned in time to score in a televised 3-1 win at QPR. That game also saw Kevin Doyle score and celebrate against his former club, a move that split the fanbase.

By the time Blackburn pitched up at the Mad Stad, Nigel Adkins was able to name an unchanged team for an EIGHTH game in a row, a trait that would fizzle out as the year wore on. Jobi McAnuff's error helped give Rovers all three points to make it back-to-back home defeats to close out the month.

Elsewhere, Colm looked at the experience of being a football fan surrounded by those who don't love the beautiful game, while Hoops analysed where Jordan Obita might end up.

Tilehurst End Player of the Month: Danny Williams

MARCH

The month started with one of the most comical games we're likely to see at the Madejski for a long time to come as eight-man Yeovil managed to hold the Royals, who missed a penalty and only equalised through a comical own goal.

Just a week later and again Reading couldn't beat a side with a man sent-off as Brighton held Adkins' side to a 1-1 draw at the AMEX, in a game most notable for Royson Drenthe's first goal for the club.

Drenthe would repeat the trick just days later as Reading raced into a stunning four-goal lead at Leeds, on their way to a 4-2 win at Elland Road on Nigel's birthday.

Four points against Derby and Birmingham followed, with the later of those games seeing Jobi McAnuff's first goals in two seasons before the month ended with a spectacular whimper.

First relegation fodder Barnsley ripped up the form book with an easy 3-1 win at the Madejski Stadium before another struggling side Huddersfield battled their way to a point on the same ground. After the Barnsley game, Bucks picked up on a trend that would only grow as the Adkins era wore on.

"I often think that a good measure of a performance is the amount of times a team wins 50/50 challenges - it shows the desire to get stuck in, and the quality to win and then keep the ball. However, all too often last night, 50/50s went the way of the visitors, with the Tykes showing spirit and application."

The biggest news story off the pitch involved local newspaper the Reading Chronicle who decided to paint Reading fans as hooligans on their front page despite the club being one of the best behaved in the country, with Urzz1871 posting a perfect response.

With promotion still a possibility, Wimb asked whether the Premier League was a dream worth chasing and Urzz also popped up with praise for 'clever' footballers.

Tilehurst End Player of the Month: Jordan Obita

APRIL

Reading's play-off push gained further momentum as the new month dawned with Danny Williams scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win at the Valley over Charlton.

However our awful luck with injuries would cripple the team heading into the trip to play-off rivals Bournemouth as we were forced to name a midfield that consisted of four wingers. Understandably that group was easily overrun by a rampant Cherries side who strolled to a 3-1 win. The game would also prove the final start for Royston Drenthe in a Reading shirt, with the winger memorably opting to take a narrow angled shot on his right when Le Fondre was in position to tap home at 1-0 down.

A 1-1 draw on the tele against Champions Leicester was entertaining enough but a 3-0 humbling against another play-off rival in Wigan looked to have left our play-off hopes hanging by a thread.

That prompted Wimb to argue why fans shouldn't have expected much more from the team this season. 54% of you voted that the club was having a 'poor but understandable season' with just 24% thinking it was good or excellent.

However the stuttering form of Brighton and Forest meant that Reading were still in with a shout heading into the final three games of the season and spirits were very much lifted as the club picked up a first home win since January by beating Middlesbrough 2-0.

With our destiny back in our own hands a trip to relegation threatened Doncaster looked a great chance to nudge a step closer to the promotion lottery but with an hour gone Reading found themselves 1-0 down and looking short on ideas. An Alfie penalty gave the travelling fans hope before substitute Jake Taylor crossed for Pogrebnyak to give the Royals a precious lead. It got even better just minutes later as this unexpected moment of skill from Pearce set the Pog up for his second and seal a vital three points.

Elsewhere on the Tilehurst End, Colm produced another fine couple of articles, first taking the time to praise the club's PR before asking if social media was producing more of a herd mentality among football fans.

Tilehurst End Player of the Month: Garath McCleary** (award also included one game in May)

MAY

We headed into the final game of the season against already promoted Burnley knowing that a win would guarentee us a place in the play-offs, while even a draw would be good enough as long as Brighton failed to win at Forest.

Mikele Leigertwood was included to make a first home start of 2014 and just his fourth game of the season and home fans had further reason to cheer with Kieran Trippier put the ball into his own net to give Reading a lead.

Rather than lay down and have a nice stroll in the sunshine, Burnley fought back and two goals in eight minutes left Reading needed two goals to ensure a play-off spot.

Garath McCleary's wonder strike brought things level and while there was no way past a stubborn Burnley defence the 1-1 scoreline at the City Ground meant that as it stood, Reading would take the final play-off place.

As we all know, it didn't stay that way and an injury time winner in Nottingham crushed our top six hopes and led to a laughable situation where false rumours of a Forest equaliser sparked a pitch invasion at the Madejski.

QPR would eventually progress through the play-offs to join Leicester and Burnley in the Premier League while Doncaster, Yeovil and Barnsley would all drop into League One.

Jordan Obita was voted your Tilehurst End Player of the Season, with the young full-back also scooping the club's own award.

The reviews of the season soon began on the website, plus a look at Royston Drenthe's future and a great piece from Urzz1871 on the choices available to Chairman Sir John Madejski.

Club captain Jobi McAnuff was among those released at the end of the year, prompting a debate over where he sits among Reading's legends.

While the month ended with the sale of striker Adam Le Fondre, who joined Cardiff for a fee believed to be around the £3.5m mark.

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That's it for part one, stay tuned for part 2 which should hit your browsers before the end of the week. In the mean time feel free to leave your own memories of the first half of 2014 in the comments section and we'd like to wish you all a very happy new year from all of us here at the Tilehurst End.