Blues’ league campaign ended on a high at St Andrews on Saturday. Andy Munro was there.
In fairness to Reading, it was more of a ‘must win’ game for us than for them, as we needed to finish as high up in the play-offs as possible and wanted to go into them on a confidence-boosting unbeaten run.
As expected, they bought a more than decent following and with a slightly more presentable number of Bluenoses in attendance there was a cracking atmosphere. Both teams rested players but right from the off, it was obvious that the Reading players were still keen to get their win bonus and reward their following with a decent show. Blues fielded a little and large combination up front in Ziggy and Nathan Redmond, the latter being rewarded, no doubt, following his impressive performance down the centre against Brighton. N’Daw came back into the midfield for arguably his last appearance in the Championship and additionally the goalscoring potential of Burke and King were left on the bench.
Early on, it was very much nip and tuck but it was Blues who took the lead when good defensive work led to Gomes playing the sort of forward ball of which I never thought that he was capable, to the speedy Redmond. Nathan then threaded a perfect ball across to Rooney who netted with a coolness that would have pleased Wayne himself.
Blues hit the post before conceding a soft penalty after the restart. Luckily we had our penalty saving expert between the sticks and Colin Doyle obliged with his now regulation diving stop. This brought renewed vigour to Blues’ game with man of the match Murphy and the excellent Townsend marauding down the left flank. Something had to give and, true to form, following great play from Redmond, the tricky Townsend had his cross illegally charged down. Luckily Ziggy had limped off, so up stepped Wade Elliott to send the keeper the wrong way and this signalled Reading effectively throwing in the towel.
Adam Rooney was then a whisker away from heading a third and Wade Elliott should have done better with the goal at his mercy. On the subject of open goals, we missed a second penalty but this certainly didn’t stop the noisy crowd celebrating with alternate chants of “There’s Only One Chris Hughton” and “The Ginger One is Yours” echoing around the ground.
Whatever happens in the play-offs, it’s been a memorable and enjoyable season and unless the club financially implodes we can look forward with reasonable hope to next season irrespective of the division we’re in.