The festive period brings with it a busy schedule, and this year was no different for the Royals, who looked to bolster their hopes of a place in the top six, with the campaign’s half-way point on the horizon.
Here’s our visual recap of a hectic Christmas period, and the beginning of January which marked the 23-game stage of our journey.
December 2nd: Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Reading
Unbelievable: João adimant on penalty shout
Lucas João may have scored on his return to his former club, but he was left wondering if it could have been more, having seen the officials waved away multiple appeals for a penalty.
Despite dominating proceedings against a 10-man Owls side, the Royals were forced to accept a point in a game marred by controversy at Hillsborough.
December 5th: Reading 2-0 Nottingham Forest
That was for you: Royals put on a show as supporters return
For the first time since March, we had fans in the stands for the visit of Nottingham Forest. The team rose to the occasion and gave our supporters not one, but two goals to celebrate as we coasted past Chris Hughton’s struggling Reds.
Goals from João and Michael Morrison saw the Royals stretch their unbeaten run to four games, as they put a disappointing November behind them.
December 9th: Reading 1-2 Birmingham City
Fine margins: Lucas falls short from the spot
Jon Toral scored twice in quick succession to dent the Royals’ hopes of welcoming our supporters back with a second win in as many games.
Yakou Méïté struck to get Reading back on track, but João couldn’t make the visitors pay when awarded with a chance to do so from the spot. A night to forget for Pauno's group.
December 12th: Queen’s Park Rangers 0-1 Reading
Birthday boy: Olise marks the occasion with stunning winner
Having been beaten by Birmingham, the Royals had a point to prove as they travelled to Loftus Road.
It may have taken until the 89th minute for the deadlock to be broken, but up stepped newly 19-year-old Michael Olise who cut inside before converting from range to silence a dejected home crowd.
December 16th: Reading 1-2 Norwich City
Gutted: Laurent left disheartened after narrow loss
The Royals held their own against the league leading Canaries and would have secured a point but for a Teemu Pukki penalty which sealed the win for Daniel Farke’s men.
Olise netted for the second time in as many games, but this proved too little to prevent Norwich from leaving with the points.
December 19th: Brentford 3-1 Reading
Made to pay: Bees wheel away after profitting from poor Royals half
Three Brentford goals inside the opening 30 minutes was too much to ammend, despite a second-half Royals revival.
Sone Aluko’s header reduced the deficit just after the hour mark, but we were left to rue an uncharacteristically sluggish start, of which the Bees took full advantage.
December 26th: Reading 2-1 Luton Town
Living the dream: McIntyre finds the net for boyhood club
Following the disappointment of another lockdown, that put an end to having supporters in attenandce, Tom McIntyre lifted everyone’s spirits as the defender, who has been with the club since the age of 8, registered his first Reading goal.
McIntyre’s placed volley and Alfa Semedo’s calm finish proved all that was needed to see off the Hatters as the Royals returned to the play-off spots.
December 30th: Swansea City 0-0 Reading
Rafael to the rescue: Brazilian stopper steals the show
With Swansea starting the day in the top two, a trip to the Liberty Stadium seemed a daunting prospect. However, Pauno’s side battled well to ensure a share of the spoils made their way back to Berkshire.
Royals keeper Rafael pulled off a string of stunning saves to keep the Swans at bay, preserving what could prove to be an important point.
January 2nd: Huddersfield Town 1-2 Reading
I'm back: João hadn't lost his midas touch
With João reintroduced to the side, the Royals began 2021 in style as two goals from the Portuguese forward saw us brush aside the Terriers on their own turf, coming from behind to win for the first time this season.
Freescoring João hit two classy second half strikes to cancel out Town’s opener, ensuring a happy new year for the squad and our supporters.
January 9th: Luton Town 1-0 Reading (Emirates FA Cup)
Young blood: Trio prepare to enter the fray
The Royals may have bowed out of the FA Cup at Kenilworth Road, but there was plenty to be proud of as a Reading squad bursting at the seams with Academy graduates, put in a determined display in front of the BT Sport cameras.
Within the side that made Luton earn their victory, there were first starts for Jeriel Dorsett and Jayden Onen, and debuts for Olly Pendlebury, Mamadi Camara and Connor Lawless.
It could have been so different for our youngsters, had Sone Aluko and Nahum Melvin-Lambert's efforts not struck the woodwork. Irrespective of the result, Pauno was keen to praise his team who left Bedfordshire with their heads held high.