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Opposition View: The Tilehurst End

After an incredible at-the-death win at home to Bournemouth, attention turns to the first of the rearranged games: away at Reading. We got the views of Royal's fan Adam Jones, of The Tilehurst End, ahead of the game...

Tell us a bit about you and your Royals' supporting background…

Hello! I'm Adam Jones, writer for Football League World (as Billy will know!), assistant editor at The Tilehurst End and Reading fan. The first-ever Reading game I watched live was during the 2006/07 season when we enjoyed the most successful season in our 150-year history. The score? 2-0 Watford. Perhaps that set me up well for current disappointment - but regardless of how well the team was doing - I grew attached to the stadium, players, and manager at the time Steve Coppell. We were a very well-run club and despite my dad's attempts to get me to support Arsenal, I stuck with the Royals. Either way, I would be experiencing pain right now so I think my choice was justified in the end! Promotion back to the top flight during the 2011/12 season was my highlight of supporting the club so far - but I'm praying for more success in the future. It’s been a tough season so far for Reading, sitting just three points outside of the relegation zone after your six-point deduction. What’s your verdict on the season so far?

Delivering my verdict without the use of profanity is a tall order - but I'll give it a go! We've had a Weston. Not only have we had chronic injury problems, but we've bottled so many leads, suffered a points deduction, been under a transfer embargo, lost to a team in the sixth tier in the FA Cup, suffered our record home defeat, and have now stripped Liam Moore of the captaincy after he handed in a transfer request. So all in all, it hasn't exactly been a dream. There have been highlights - and Swansea (a) comes into mind with two ex-England internationals getting on the scoresheet. But there have been far more lowlights and the responsibility for that much be shared between the board, manager, and players. Attendances have also been dwindling which is a real concern - and everything just seems a little rotten at the moment. The formation isn't helping and we've looked devoid of ideas at times, but I'll come on to Pauno a little more in the next section. But to sum it all up, we just haven't been good enough for large spells of the season and have been very mentally brittle. The boys showed fight at the weekend though - and we'll be hoping to replicate that with the home advantage in midweek. Not sure if I can call being at the SCL a home advantage though after a pasting by Fulham. Veljko Paunovic seemed to have a very good start to his Reading managerial career, finishing 7th in his first season in charge. What’s the general feeling about his time as manager so far?

I do feel for him. He's been dealt an extremely rough hand, especially this season with off-the-pitch turmoil, a horrendous injury crisis that has seemingly been going on for years, and now the Liam Moore situation. That's why it has been so difficult to judge his time as manager so far. However, you've got to judge him based on what he has at his disposal and recent performances. Of course, I don't envy his situation right now with the need to change up the backline and gamble on some very inexperienced players - but the tactics are questionable at best and this is why many fans have turned on him. I don't expect us to win every game, only a fool would. But sitting back seems to have become a bad habit of ours and though the players need to take some of the blame for that, this mentality of defending for our lives isn't paying dividends and has to partly be put down to the manager as well. His substitutions seem to have improved recently which is one good thing - but we're very mentally weak under his stewardship and this is probably why some people want a change in manager. His post-match interviews also aren't doing him any favours. We seem to be stuck with him for the remainder of the season though, so it will be interesting to see what happens. It's a very strange situation. We have a manager who probably won't be here at the end of the season and many key players who will move on in the summer - and that's why we're a little nervous about the possibility of relegation. Pauno's a decent bloke though - and I'm desperate to see our results improve not just for our sake but for his too. In the long term though, I'm not sure he's the man to lead us forward. Despite the tough season so far, who would you say has shone in a Royals’ shirt this season?

Luke Southwood has been a revelation since coming in for Rafael Cabral - and after waiting so patiently for his opportunity - I'm very pleased to see him in the starting lineup. He does have a mistake in him, however, so I'm hoping for a solid performance from him against the Hatters. I think Andy Yiadom has also been decent in spells alongside Tom Holmes, it's just a shame the former is at the African Cup of Nations at the moment because he can make a real difference both in terms of the defence and going forward. Josh Laurent hasn't been the same player he was last season - but it's great to have Andy Rinomhota back in action. We really have missed his energy in the middle. In the attack, Tom Dele-Bashiru has been good at times but it's two free signings that have really impressed me in Junior Hoilett and Andy Carroll. Hoilett has that little bit of quality we need as he showed against Derby earlier this month and I'm hoping the injury he picked up against Boro doesn't result in a lengthy absence. It would be so Reading Football Club for him to be out for the next few months though. A special mention has to go to Carroll though who was superb during his time in a Reading shirt. Not only did he provide an aerial presence - but his technical ability is superb and you can tell he used to play for England. At the time of writing this, he's out of contract, but I'm hoping he signs an extension until the end of the season and provides you with a nasty surprise! He might be our only hope at the moment with Joao still working his way back to full fitness and perhaps unlikely to start on Wednesday evening. This game will be the first between Luton and Reading this season. What have you made of the Hatters this season from the outside?

The first thing that strikes me about Luton is not what you have on the pitch, but what you've got off it: stability. I know that won't be taken for granted by your lot after past financial struggles - but it's something we need at RFC and we haven't got that at the moment. Not only do you have a manager that looks like he will be at Kenilworth Road (and your new stadium!) for the long term, but some of your players are severely underrated and you seem to be sound financially. Some would argue that you don't have the best squad in the league - but you have the togetherness that took us up during the 2011/12 season even though we didn't have the strongest team on paper. That should be a real source of encouragement to you - and some of your forward players are particularly threatening. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Elijah Adebayo and Harry Cornick take the step up to the Premier League at some point - and although it won't provide much comfort to you to see one of your players linked with a move away - I'm glad the Adebayo/Newcastle link emerged. You're finally getting recognition and rightly so. I can say more good things about you than my own club at the moment, unfortunately. Best of luck for the rest of the season except Wednesday evening!

Time for some predictions - who do you think (i) will get automatic promotion, (ii) make the playoffs, and (iii) get relegated?

1. Fulham 2. AFC Bournemouth 3. QPR 4. Middlesbrough 5. Blackburn Rovers 6. Nottingham Forest 22. Cardiff City (mainly because I can't bear the thought of my own club going down but it'll be a close one!) 23. Peterborough United 24. Barnsley Finally, give us your score prediction for Wednesday’s game…

Crikey, I guess it depends on who turns up on the day. We need a reaction following such a heavy home defeat - but I'm not sure there will be too many home supporters there. Apologise for the Covid rearrangement, we were expected to have over 20,000 fans there so we were gutted ourselves! As much as I want us to get a win, you boys pulled off a magnificent result at the weekend. Both sides will be hungry for a win - so I'll go with a closely-fought 1-1 draw.

With thanks to Adam Jones (@ajonesrfc). For more from The Tilehurst End find them at @TheTilehurstEnd (Twitter) or visit

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