It has been a sign of the recent resurgence of Reading that all the talk has been about a push for the play-offs rather than of a relegation fight. The goalless draw on Saturday with Cardiff City may have been a blow to the hopes of ending up in the top six but it was enough to mathematically end any chance of dropping down to League One.
Whilst talk of finishing in the bottom three may seem irrelevant considering the comfortable mid-table spot the club has held for several weeks, it was only as recently as January that the Royals were four points from safety having just lost to Sheffield United. Just three short months ago, the prospect of guaranteeing survival in the division with five games remaining was light years away from being achievable. Thanks to a run of just two defeats in 15 matches, most of which have ended in victory, Brian McDermott has seen his team achieve their biggest goal from the time of his appointment with plenty of room to breathe.
It is a sign of just how big the turn around in fortunes at the club has been that it was the statisticians rather than the average fan who will have been most concerned with when the club reached the safety mark. After coming away from Bramall Lane with yet another defeat in a game in which the team had actually played well throughout, anxious eyes throughout Berkshire were expecting to spend the next four months glued to the bottom of the Championship table, hoping to see the team rise out of the drop zone before May. Even when the players started picking up the wins their efforts had deserved, it still took time to move out of the bottom three due to the original deficit and other teams collecting points of their own. Few would have been surprised if the mini-revival came to a brisk end and many would have anticipated a struggle for the team to keep their heads above the water. What they have got is a stunning run of form that would have been worthy of a push for automatic promotion if only the first half of the season had yielded more points. If the play-offs might just be out of reach, then the reward for this excellent streak is the luxury of being blas