Before this season, Tom Holmes had just one first-team appearance for the Royals. It’s been a bit of a breakthrough season for the 20-year-old defender… meaning that he has had to wait until his tenth league appearance of 2020-21 to actually play in front of fans again.
And for a lad who grew up in the area, and whose family are regulars at Madejski Stadium, having supporters inside the ground meant a lot.
“Football has part of its soul back!” Tom said. “It was great to see them, and I hope they enjoyed it.
“This is my club. It’s where I’ve grown up. I had my family here – my dad, my mum and my brother were here watching.
“It has been quite frustrating not being able to have them at the stadium, especially when I’ve been breaking through this season. So it was great to have them back with the rest of the fans. I would be here, if I wasn’t involved!
“It was great to play in front of fans again – to have that bit of pressure, and a bit more on it.”
It was Holmes who instigated the first goal. Putting his head in there, he forced goalie Brice Samba into an error, which in turn forced Ryan Yates to hand-ball on the line and get sent off. Lucas Joao tucked away the penalty.
Holmes was one of many players who could have doubled the advantage – that privilege fell to fellow defender Michael Morrison, who headed in our second.
“It was a good moment, for the penalty,” he continued. “I was optimistic, tried to sneak in and get my head on the ball… fortunately it paid off.
“I’m a defender, but I feel that I’ve got an attacking instinct. Throughout the Academy I played in all positions. It’s just having that ruthless side to put the ball in the net… I feel like my goal is coming!
“The coaching staff made sure we did the basics right, had a good foundation, and gave it to the players who can create – that’s what we did.
“We’ve built some momentum again. That’s the beauty of the Championship – games come thick and fast, and if you get on a run and hit some form, you can rack up the points.
“Now I’m really looking forward to Birmingham. That will be a really exciting one, slightly different under the floodlights, and the fans will play a massive part again.”