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Five Things From Reading’s Shabby Win Over Northampton Town

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Reading were far from at their best, but they got the job done on Good Friday.

Shabby

In hindsight, even though Reading won the game, we’re now coming away from the stadium feeling that we managed to even without being at our best. That’s a scenario that we’ve not often seen in the last year or so.

Almost all of our big hitters - Sam Smith, Harvey Knibbs, Femi Azeez and to a lesser degree Lewis Wing - had so-so kind of games. Joel Pereira saved our bacon a couple of times with some smart saves, but in truth, he didn’t have to do a great deal beyond that.

Our best players, other than El Gato, were Amadou Mbengue and the ever-impressive Tyler Bindon, who belied his years with another fantastic, mature performance. In fact, all of the back four weren’t too shabby at all.

The rest, not so much. Smith was effectively marked out of the game and thus couldn’t add to his continuous goal-scoring feats. Knibbs bustled about with some of his usual pressing game coming to the fore but couldn’t affect the game beyond that. Azeez tried hard, but nothing (and I mean, literally nothing) came off for him. Wing still had influence in his usual quarterback position but by no means was close to his recent high standards.

That said, Charlie Savage continued to improve game on game with a tenacious and intelligent performance.

Curled

The less said about poor Ben Elliott the better - he had a stinker out on the left wing, which, as we all know, isn’t his position anyway. He had a shaky start, got booked for a mistimed challenge (possibly trying too hard), almost cost us a goal when he lost possession as the last man, and then proceeded to disappear from proceedings.

It was a surprise he reappeared after half-time in truth. He might have wished to have stayed in the dressing room rather than reappear for the second half.

But cometh the hour, cometh the Ehibhatiomhan. For the second game in succession, super Kelv unleashed a beauty, this one curling majestically into the bottom corner after great work from Jeriel Dorsett. It was the immediate anti-thesis of Elliott’s spluttering performance to score the winner a mere six minutes after his introduction. It was a strike that was worthy of winning any game.

And that’s the statement of the game: that, despite a fair few of our players not being at their peak, we can now grind out results regardless. It’s a far cry from the start of the season when we looked lost at sea; we have come so far in that short space of time.

Northampton are no mugs in this division, but we’ve got the determination and togetherness now not to panic or feel sorry for ourselves when some are struggling to find their ”A” game.

We’re as good as many teams in the division that are well established League One operators. Considering everything this season, that’s no mean feat. We can still be well below par, and come out with the W.

Incompetence

Another contributor to the whole piece was, unfortunately, referee Thomas Parsons, who seemed to have a rulebook that was entirely his own. Generally, the positioning of a referee is key to proceedings, but often he was the culprit of being in the way of what could have been a half-decent game of football.

At times he didn’t know when to play on when we had possession and sometimes just guessed who had fouled who (because there just had to be foul somewhere) and blew up just because he had to do something. Then, when the ball had pinged off him for the umpteenth time, he inexplicably waited until we had possession before blowing the whistle. Why the wait?

Most baffling of all was a decision to give Northampton the ball after their keeper needed attention. We had the ball near the halfway line before Parsons had stopped play, yet he gave a drop ball to Northampton when play resumed? Maybe it’s a quirk in the rule book that I’m not aware of, but that decision was truly odd.

While it wasn’t in the Charles Breakspear (Derby County away) level of incompetence, not by any distance, he was still rather infuriating at times. And we thought referees in the Championship were bad!

Unity

Overall, this hasn’t been a bad week at all compared to the previous when all hell broke loose regarding the sale of Bearwood to Wycombe Plunderers. Since then, the issue has been resolved, previous bidders for the club that had walked away after the training ground was removed from the sale package have now returned and they appear to be the group that are in pole position to buy the club.

Once again, this has brought fans and players together like never before. The emotion and importance of still having a club and training ground to call our own became heightened. The mental strain of supporting this club can be a stretch at times, but there’s just a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel now.

The players are still defying all the odds and the fans are reciprocating by turning up in numbers at the SCL. The undoubted unity is palpable on and off the pitch. The fans certainly played their part in getting this result over the line - that can’t be denied.

Healthy

The win was vital as, for the first time in an age, many of the teams at the bottom of the division actually won! Only one team in the bottom 10 were defeated. As a result, our win kept our six-point gap intact with a very healthy goal difference of just -1.

We hope to complete our Easter revival with a result at Bolton Wanderers on Monday. This will be exceedingly tough as the hosts will have a fine home record. That said, they have spluttered of late, only winning three out of the last 10 games home and away.

If others flounder, a win would almost kill off any chance of relegation realistically and if we keep on scoring absolute worldies like Ehibhatiomhan has of late, we have every chance of completing the Great Escape!

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