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Play-Off Final Review – Reading Fan Reflection On Defeat (Interview)

The parties in Swansea may have ended but the smiles on the faces of their fans are probably still as broad as they were the moment Scott Sinclair sealed his hat-trick on Monday.

The pain of defeat however can take longer to heal and Kristian Downer was able to cajole one Reading fan Russell Hammat sharing his thoughts on the game, his experiences watching from Wembley and his hopes for the future.

Hi Russell firstly commiserations and thank you for your time, after a few days to recover how are you feeling?

Not as bad as i thought i would – getting in the playoff’s this season was above expectations really especially after Gylfi was sold so on reflection it wasn’t a bad season.

I’ve also had a chance to watch the highlights and that’s actually made me feel a bit better because we had a lot more chances than i thought we did but i also saw that both penalites were the right decision – the first one was right in front of me but with only one split second chance (and a fair few pints) to see it was hard to tell but clearly it was the right decision – 2nd one was other end of the pitch so we couldn’t really tell but again it was a stone wall penalty.

 So although we lost there are positives to take from both the game and the season as a whole.

Where did you watch the game?

I was in Wembley about 4 rows back from the goal sat almost right behind it. It was a phenominal experience, i’ve been to Wembley before but it has never been an atmosphere like that.

Can you explain the atmosphere inside the ground, for those of us watching on television?

Incredible, i’ve never experienced anything like it. Before the game we were at a Reading designated pub where spirits were high with lots of singing and laughter.

Then on the way to the ground there was just a feeling of hope running through the fans, before kick off it was unreal hearing the 80,000+ crowd in full voice (even Sir John was dancing!), it was electric.

Feeling the highs and lows with 40,000 other Reading fans was something i’ll never forget.

What were your thoughts on the start to the game, Reading started brightly but the goals were a killer, did you have any hope at half time?

From the moment i heard Jimmy Kebe was starting we thought we had a chance, his pace provides such a fantastic option and the first 10 mins made it look like we had a real chance, even after the penalty was given we still held hope.

Then 2 minutes later hope slow started draining away, 2-0 down looked like a mountain to come back from.

By half time it was one of the worst possible positions to be in but still there was faith amongst most of the Reading fans – we’d beaten Doncaster 4-3 after being 3-0 down and drew with Norwich 3-3 after being 3-0 down however those games were at home and clearly not the same magnitude as this match.

Yet we knew that if Swansea could get 3 in one half there was no reason we couldn’t do it again, even if that was only a small glimmer of hope.

The second half saw a stunning comeback, you must have felt after the Mills goals you were unstoppable, what were the emotions you felt during the game?

The come back was incredible, when Noel Hunt scored there was this feeling of ‘we can’t – can we?’ and when the second goal went in that was it, the Reading fans were flying high and we were believing again, 30mins to score 1 goal was more than possible and momentum was clearly with us.

By that point emotions were undescribable, just sheer joy at the fact we were back in the game and had a fighting chance. Then Jem Karacan hit the post and there was just a feeling that was the chance to pull it level. If that had gone in then things could have been very different

In general what were your thoughts on the match, did the better team on the day win?

The match was great although there was a feeling 1 rash tackle and it would all kick off, i was surprised it didn’t when Joe Allen sycthed down.

 Noel Hunt, but the fans were fantastic.

It’s hard to say if the better team won – Swansea finished 3rd so probably deserved it over the course of the season (they beat us twice in the league as well) but when you look at some of the figures for the game – 11 shots on target for us to their 4, 8 off to their 2 and 16 corners to 4 shows we had the better of the game really.

However it kind of defined our season – we didn’t take all our chances, we had lots of corners and yes scored 2 from them but the other one’s were wasted.

Looking at the figures you could say Reading should have won but watching the game it was 2 silly individual mistakes that gave away the penalties and cost us the match, so i guess Swansea did deserve it?

Finally are you proud of your team and what are your hopes for next season?

Beating Cardiff 3-0 in Cardiff made me proud no matter what happened in the final, just getting that far was an excellent achievment for the season, and in reflection i’m very proud of the players, the fans and the club.

 Next season is going to be very tough, esepcially as Long & Kebe are almost certain to leave meaning we’ll have to bring in a new striker and possibly a winger.

We’ve signed Leigertwood which is a good start because he’s been fatastic since joining on loan in Jan but we are going to need some new defenders as Harte & Griffin are both short of pace and not getting any younger and i’d be amazed if we signed Zurab on his wages – hopefully Matt Mills will stay though.

It all depends on who we buy and who stay’s – if we invest wisely we could push for a place in the top 2 again, if we sell but don’t invest then mid table mediocrity beckons i think-maybe sneak in to the playoff’s again although i wouldn’t want to go through all that again!

Thanks for to Russell for takin the time to speak with us and give us your thoughts, best of luck for next season.

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