Reading disaster was the lowest point in Andy Lonergan's career

Andy Lonergan says last week's defeat was the worst feeling of his footballing life

Andy Lonergan says last week's defeat was the worst feeling of his footballing life

First published in Sport

ANDY Lonergan admits he would have been Homeward Bound by half time at Reading last weekend if he had the chance.

Shipping seven at the Madejski Stadium was, by the Wanderers keeper’s estimation, the worst moment of his professional career.

But the man whose name has been encapsulated in a terrace chant to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s classic “Mrs Robinson” reckons Dougie Freedman’s side can still be Feelin’ Groovy at 5pm today if they can beat Cardiff City in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Re-living last weekend’s massacre was clearly not something the 30-year-old stopper was keen on doing.

“I’ve had games where I have been responsible for a few goals,” he said. “But Saturday I just could not understand what was happening in front of me on the pitch. It was outrageous.

“That was the worst feeling I have had in football by a million miles.

“It was a horror show and everyone could see it. But we have got to be men, stick together and go again. It’s the only thing you can do.”

Lonergan did not need reminding this had happened before – at Elland Road of all places as Leeds shipped seven at home for the only time in their history against Nottingham Forest.

He bounced back on that occasion to save a penalty at Millwall in his next game and secure a clean sheet. He hopes to do the same again today – but like most in the Wanderers camp, he is still having flashbacks to the club’s worst result in 32 years.

“I have analysed the goals with the goalie coach and I can’t really think I could have done anymore with: penalties, deflections, one v ones, two v ones. It was one of those times when you think ‘when is the ball going to hit me?’” he said.

“Of course, it’s bugging me because I don’t want people to think I don’t care. But it’s the life of a goalkeeper. You are going to get built up and you are going to get knocked down so you just have to get on with it.”

Since coming in from the cold in October last year to take up the gloves from the injured Adam Bogdan, Lonergan has become somewhat of a cult figure on the terraces.

His save from Reading sub Nick Blackman last week spared Wanderers the embarrassment of the worst league result in their entire 140-year history – a fact acknowledged rather tongue-in-cheek by the fans who had stayed to the bitter end last weekend.

“I could hear them still supporting us and I actually thought ‘what a great effort’” Lonergan said. “If I had been in their position I would have gone at half-time. No doubt about it.

“I love playing at the Reebok, it’s a great place to play and, hopefully, it will continue to be.

“That song makes me smile (Mrs Robinson). You hear it and want to acknowledge it but you have got to concentrate on the game. You can’t be showboating but I do appreciate it."

Though a cup win could bring some much-needed cheer, Longergan acknowledges it will not be until the points column starts ticking over that the memory of the Reading defeat will start to fade.

A daunting trip to QPR lies on the horizon on Tuesday night, with Harry Redknapp’s side fresh from a free weekend.

In the words of a similarly embattled manager down the road, “it could get worse before it gets better”.

“Previous results shouldn’t affect your next game,” Lonergan said.”It wasn’t a nice thing to happen but I don’t think it will affect us.

“The most important thing is we show the fans we are proud to play for the club and we get a decent performance.

“We want to win the game but we have a couple of tough away matches and anyone who says they are not thinking about those fixtures already will be lying.”

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