Reading lost 2-1 to Sheffield United in the FA Cup last night.
Mark Bowen would’ve left the Madejski Stadium a happy Welshman last night. His side gave a fine account of themselves against a Sheffield United side chasing a spot in next season’s Europa League, and were unlucky not to have progressed into the quarter-finals.
Their night could’ve been a whole lot worse after David McGoldrick headed United into the lead after only two minutes. But Bowen’s boys didn’t let it phase them – they kept their wits and stuck to their game-plan, and were level by half-time through George Puscas.
The Romanian has been no stranger to criticism this season, but took his penalty well, and took to Instagram after the game:
That was his 11th goal of the season, and it keeps him level on goals with joint top-scorer Yakou Meite. Puscas arrived from Inter Milan in the summer with a heavy reputation, but his early Reading career began slowly.
But now with four goals in his last five appearances, nine in the Championship all season, he’s slowly starting to show why the club broke their record transfer fee in the summer to sign him.
There’s still a long way to go, but Puscas is still a young player. Jose Gomes was keen to bring him to Berkshire but the Portuguese manager failed to get the best out of him.
It left Puscas in a difficult place, being berated by fans with each passing week and trying to live up to heavy expectations, and an even heavier price-tag. But Puscas, much like his team last night, has stuck to his guns, has kept on working hard and is starting to win the fans over.
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If Puscas had arrived in the summer for a much smaller fee, or even on-loan for example, his goals return so far this season would be hailed. But the fact is that he’s one of the most expensive players in the league, let alone in Reading’s history, and that warrants a few more goals.
Criticism has been harsh at times. For an overseas player playing his first season in English football, and often playing as a lone-striker, he’s not done too badly at all, and a strong finish to the season would set him up for an even brighter second.