With eight minutes to go and 2-0 down at home to West Brom, Brian McDermott was facing the prospect of seeing his side rooted to the bottom of the table, six points from safety on a weekend when QPR nicked a vital point at home to Spurs while Southampton, Newcastle and Wigan all added to their tallies.
By 4.45pm, however, and 23,495 fans in blue and white were wearing expressions of shock, disbelief and delirium. Goals from Jimmy Kebe, Adam Le Fondre and Pavel Pogbrenyak resulted in an unlikely turnaround, and now Reading head into next week’s tasty battle with Newcastle knowing they’re only three points from 17th place, and with the best goal difference in the bottom four.
They remain 1/5 favourites to be relegated but seasons have turned on less dramatic moments and McDermott, along with Reading fans, will hope that this late, late spectacle can prove the decisive moment in the Royals’ season.
And it’s a good time for them to feel reinvigorated. In their next seven league games, they play four sides within four places of them in the table – following their trip to Newcastle next week and a tough home tie against Chelsea, their next three home games sees them welcome Sunderland (16/1 for the drop), Wigan (6/4) and Aston Villa (10/11) to the Madejski.
McDermott’s task will be to ensure that his side reproduce the performance they proved they were capable of in the last eight minutes, with the vital home clashes coming sandwiched between tricky away trips to Stoke and Everton.
After new signing Daniel Carrico made a promising debut, sitting in front of the back four to allow the likes of Kebe and McAnuff more freedom to express their creative flair, McDermott may well look to add make more shrewd signings, while Danny Guthrie’s recent reintegration to the team can only be seen as a positive, with pivotal games on the horizon.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.