Momentum can be a key thing in football. String a few good results together, particularly on the back of a bad run, and the ensuing belief that comes into the squad and fanbase can be transformative.
That should have been the case this week – had Reading got another positive result at the City Ground last Saturday. Mark Bowen had made a strong start to his time in the Mad Stad dugout, pulling off a dramatic last-gasp victory over Preston North End thanks to Matt Miazga’s late winner, before the Royals’ aggression and fight were enough to seal a point at Queens Park Rangers – also a play-off chasing side.
So far, so encouraging. Sabri Lamouchi’s high-flying Forest were next up, but despite their impressive position in the table before the weekend – eighth, just two points off second – the upcoming match was a big opportunity for Reading.
Forest had won just once in their previous four games, losing their last two. With renewed belief in the camp after back-to-back matches unbeaten, and a noticeably more positive atmosphere around the club, Reading were more than capable of pulling off a win – a result that would have lifted us to 17th.
So it was of course hugely frustrating when the match was called off at late notice on Saturday afternoon – especially so for the sizeable travelling contingent of Reading fans making their way up to the City Ground. There had been heavy rainfall in the East Midlands the night before, and the forecast showed more on matchday, but it took the powers-that-be until midday to even announce there’d be a pitch inspection.
The postponement was also particularly galling for Mark Bowen and his squad, who would have been raring to go after the draw at QPR and keen to get a second away win of the season on the board. Indeed, after the game, the Welshman said he was “gutted” that the match had been called off – even if it meant one game fewer without injured players like Yakou Meite, Lucas Boye, Lucas Joao and Charlie Adam.
Had Bowen helped Reading to a win at the City Ground, it would have bolstered an already-impressive start to life at Reading. But he still has two very good opportunities to add to his collection of victories in the coming weeks. Millwall and Luton Town are up next at the Madejski Stadium, before the short trip to Brentford after the international break.
Reading may well have been denied the opportunity to build up some momentum last weekend, but they can’t let their upcoming chance slip.