Jem's goal for fans, family and physiosRoyals skipper Jem Karacan came off the bench to don the captain's armband for the first time since he was appointed skipper back in July and he marked his comeback with a goal at Vicarage Road!
"I wanted to play as long as I could today and I’ve been pestering the gaffer for a start over the last couple of days, but it was too soon to start me today," the goalscorer admitted.
"So I was fortunate enough to get on the pitch and play a part this afternoon, but we lost the game so the lads are disappointed in there.
"The early goals killed us a bit, but the boys reacted well and we stuck in there. They didn't outplay us but their finishing was incredible today. Saying that, after we got that goal back, we had a couple of chances to get back into it but we didn't capitalise on them.
"The gaffer gave some of us an opportunity today to show what we could do and hopefully, despite the scoreline, a few of us can hold our heads high and give the gaffer a few decisions to make."
The goal that resurrected the Royals' hopes came from the boot of Karacan himself, the midfielder arcing a lovely right-footed effort wide of Heurelho Gomes and inside the right post to get the Royals back in the fixture.
"The gaffer told me to stand on the edge of the box and to wait for the ball to come out, and fortunately it's landed to me - and I managed to guide it in!
"It was nice to score that goal, after so long out, and for my family to be here as well. I've missed that goalscoring feeling. Unfortunately it doesn't mean anything for the team today, but personally it does.
"If you tell any player whose been out for 18 months that they’re going to get half an hour, they’re going to run themselves into the ground. And I’ve always been known for my energy, getting around the pitch, so I tried to get on the ball and get the boys playing.
"Me and my family have been through a lot over the last year and a half, and the fans have stuck by me all the way through it. And that goal is for them and the physio team as well, who have been by my side through all the moody times!
"The ovation I got when I first got back was amazing and it was nice to be back out there with the lads again today and hopefully I can be in the gaffer's thoughts a bit now moving on.
"It's another step on the ladder. I got 70 minutes for the 21s last week and I took a pretty hefty challenge in that game too. So the confidence to come through one of those tackles, train the whole week and then play today - it's good for me to know I can come through all that.
"The most frustrating thing for me is that I got given the captain’s armband in the summer and today was the first chance I got to wear it! I love the club to pieces, Ive been here so long and I want to do what I can to keep this club going in the right direction.
"I'll keep plugging away, working hard and doing what I can to help this club. There's still a long way to go, but I'll be working day in, day out to prove my worth here."
And now, the prospect of an FA Cup quarter-final replay on Monday night looms large. "It’s a massive game for the club, one that we’re really looking forward to," Jem said.
"We have the chance to play at Wembley…it’s a feeling that will always stay with me and one which is difficult to describe. I want another day at Wembley and the lads will be trying everything they can to get there.
"We'll get all the boys together now and look forward to the game against Bradford. It's going to be a really good occasion, but we'll need the 20,000 or so Reading fans supporting us and making it one hell of an atmosphere for the boys to play in."