Our friends over at The Tilehurst End stopped by to answer our questions about Reading. They had a much different view of the game than we did, and that’s why we do these things. It’s good to get an idea of what the other side thinks and not just live in our own bubble.
Cottagers Confidential: First let's talk about the ref. I felt he was slow to take control of the game (which probably helped lead to the red card). You could argue that he missed a penalty each way. There were probably two fouls and a handball in the lead up to Reading's goal. And Scott Malone could have been sent off with a second yellow. Was it just bad from my perspective, or did you find it awful as well?
The Tilehurst End: I don't think it was Mr Attwell's best game (his best game was giving us the 'ghost goal' against Watford...) However I don't think he was particularly favourable to either side on Saturday, both sets of fans had moments we probably feel he got wrong and there was a general inconsistency that always winds the fans up. However, I don't think it was any markedly different from the usual refereeing standards you get in the Championship. It didn't really stand out as being a particularly awful performance, nor was it a fabulous one either.
Could a few Reading players have gone in the book early? Maybe, yet I could say the same about a few Fulham challenges as well. For the sake of the game it was good the yellows weren't dished out too early, although I think it's the first time I've ever seen a booking handed out during a first-half corner for 'time wasting'.
CC: Paul McShane is going to miss the next match. How big of an effect is that going to have? Can Reading play a back three without him?
TTE: A couple of months ago I'd have said it was a really big blow, yet that was only Paul's second game back in the side since early March, so we've found ways to win without him.
I imagine you'll see Liam Moore with Tyler Blackett and one of Joey van den Berg or Tiago Ilori in the defence on Tuesday night. The bigger blow is Jordan Obita who had an exceptional game on Saturday but went off with an ankle injury after the full-time whistle. If he's not fit then it'll be one of Ilori or Blackett at left-back.
CC: You have to be happy with the result, but I can't feel you're very happy with the performance. You're not going to win many games if you are out shot 12-3. What do you feel the team needs to do to win in the second leg?
TTE: I totally disagree with you. The whole narrative in the build up, especially from Fulham fans, was how superior you were to us in terms of creating chances, keeping the ball and scoring goals, which statistically, especially for us on the road this season, was fair.
With that, and more importantly, on the basis of 2 1/2 games we'd played each other before Saturday, I think you'd have been utterly bonkers to go to Craven Cottage and try and impose our usual style of play. Stam had to find a way to get back to the Madejski with the tie in a winnable state and his plan worked perfectly.
Perhaps this is where our play-off experience as fans comes in to play but I really couldn't care less how we got the result, as long as we got a result.
Does anyone remember Derby's fantastic team skills and lovely football in their run to the 2014 final? No, you remember Bobby Zamora smashing it home in the last minute for 10 man QPR. What about Hull's win in 2008? It's Windass with the winner. Heck, what about your own relegation great escape at our expense in 2008, did you really care how you got that win at Portsmouth, or was Danny Murphy's winner all that mattered?
The play-offs are about beg, borrowing or stealing a result, it doesn't matter how you perform as long as you get the job done. Would I have liked to see Reading outshoot Fulham 12-3? Of course! Does it make one bit of difference to the 1-1 scoreline?
I was at the Cottage on Saturday and witnessed one of the most gutsy, hard working and dedicated performances I've seen in 22 years as a fan. I couldn't have been prouder with the commitment every one of those 14 men in weird yellow/green on the day and it felt like a proper old fashioned game of football. It's like a big old greasy pizza, sure it's not good if you eat it every day but if you enjoy it once in a while it can be very satisfying.
As for the second leg, I have no idea how Stam will play it. Fitness is going to be a big concern but I'd expect us to try and keep it tight and try to make you come on to us, rather than press high and get caught on the counter. Maybe Liam Kelly comes in for John Swift to provide a little more creativity, perhaps Beerens for Grabban, but overall I'd expect roughly the same style.
CC: Predicted Lineup and Score?
TTE: Prediction, an optimistic 1-0 win for Reading.
Lineup: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Blackett, Ilori, Moore, van den Berg, Evans, Williams, Kelly, Beerens, Kermorgant.