When all is said and done, a game that provided this much entertainment probably deserved to count for more than it ultimately did.
But had either Blackburn or Reading had anything to play for in this game, the chances are neither side would have let shackles off quite so much as was needed to deliver this late-season thriller.
As it was, both teams were able to demonstrate both their abilities and frailties that will ensure both finish comfortably in mid-table, as Blackburn threatened to through away a seemingly comfortable win, only to then snatch all three points from Reading’s grasp, ensuring Mowbray’s men do at least surpass their points total from last season, and secure a top-half finish in the process, something that is now beyond the Royals for another campaign.
Having seen their play-offs finally slip away with a 1-0 defeat at Millwall on Tuesday night – the eighth consecutive game in which they conceded the opening goal – Blackburn will have been desperate for a strong start to make strides to putting things right, and they quickly did that through a welcome, if arguably somewhat unlikely source.
Breaking down the right, Ben Brereton – back in the side for the first time since his red card in a damaging 2-0 defeat at Barnsley – was played in by Lewis Holtby, and where seconds earlier he had attempted to square to Adam Armstrong, this time the striker curled a shot around Reading goalkeeper Rafael Cabral and into the bottom corner for his first goal of the season, and just his second since his high-profile move from Nottingham Forest in August 2018, to give Rovers a third-minute lead.
Moments later, things would get even better for Blackburn, picking up a free-kick midway inside the Reading, driving to the edge of the area, before laying it off for Armstrong, who fired into the bottom corner for his 15th league goal of the season, and eighth from outside the area.
Like Rovers, Reading themselves had little to play for, but it didn’t stop them from getting back into the game in spectacular fashion.
With Blackburn midfielder Bradley Johnson – perhaps harshly – conceding a free-kick in his own half, Royals captain John Swift stepped up to brilliantly lift the ball over the wall and into the bottom corner of Christian Walton’s goal to reduce the arrears to 2-1 a quarter of an hour in.
After that, the goals, and chances, would largely abate, with Armstrong the main threat from either side in what remained of the opening period.
Twice the Blackburn top scorer would fire efforts from the perimeter of the area off target, while a third piledriver was bravely taken full in the face by Royals defender Tom McIntyre, who not surprisingly was unable to continue.
Blackburn did have one more opportunity to restore their two-goal advantage on the stroke of half-time, Armstrong playing in Brereton, who looked to be brimming with confidence and enjoying his best Rovers performance in quite some time, only for McIntyre’s replacement Liam Moore to produce an excellent challenge inside the area to deny the striker.
It would be a similar story after half-time, Rovers starting the second period largely camped in the Reading half, and they would make their dominance count ten minutes after the break, Rothwell playing a quick one-two from a corner with Lewis Holtby, before breaking into the area and firing into the bottom corner to make it 3-1.
The hosts would have chances to extend their lead not long after, Brereton dragging wide at the back post while unmarked from one cross, before a second similar narrowly evaded the reach of the forward with the goal gaping.
Having seen his team two goals down, Reading manager Mark Bowen responded with a triple substitution which would quickly pay dividends, with two of those introduced combining to get Reading back into the game, as a brilliant cross from deep by Jordan Obita was met by Sam Baldock’s flicked header, which flew past Walton into the Blackburn goal 20 minutes into the second half.
Things would get even better for the visitors just moments later, Baldock turning provider this time, getting to the byline before firing across goal for Meite to complete the comeback, as he headed home from close range to make it 3-3.
Suddenly it was Reading who looked like snatching a winner, Swift twice threatening with free-kicks from areas similar to where he netted from in the first half, while Olise saw an effort curl narrowly behind for a corner from the edge of the area.
But like Blackburn before them, Reading would make would be made to pay for not taking their chances, and again, it would be a pair of substitutes who did the damage.
Breaking down the right, Sam Gallagher’s overhit cross was kept alive on the left by Harry Chapman, who in a rare first-team appearance, was able to offer a reminder of his ability with a pinpoint ball to the back post, were Gallagher was on hand to head home and put Rovers back in front.
Fittingly for such an unpredictable game, both sides went close to adding to their tally in stoppage time, Meite heading over from close range from a free-kick for Reading, before substitute Jack Vale was denied a debut goal for Blackburn by the crossbar, ensuring that Gallagher was enough to earn Rovers a very hard-earned three points, and end their home league campaign on a high.