Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - FA Cup
LUTON 1 READING 0
Luton: G Moncur (30)
It was clear from the team selection of both managers where their priorities lie this season. In each case nine changes were made to the starting line-up for this Third Round FA Cup tie. Given Reading's dreadful run of injuries leading up to Christmas, Veljko Paunovic probably had more justification for resting most of his first choice players. Reading fans will no doubt be disappointed not to progress in the competition but they should be pleased with the performance of some of the young players drafted in for the game. Luton shaded the first half and scored a good goal, but the second half was a different story as Reading played some flowing passing football and certainly deserved at least to take the game into extra time.
Luton dominated possession in the first half particularly early in the game. Baldock was again given the thankless task of playing in isolation up front, this time with Olise pushing on to support him through the middle. Aluko and Samedo held the midfield together and McIntyre and Dorssett coped well in the centre of the back four. Luton looked more likely to score and they took the lead after twenty-nine minutes when a deep cross was volleyed home by Moncur. Reading reacted well after going behind and began to threaten The Hatters goal. Aluko made room for a shot but dragged it just wide and Pendlebury burst through and hit the target with a powerful shot but straight ‘keeper Sluga. Olise was starting to come into the game, and ex-Royal Osho, making his Luton debut, blocked his attempt on goal just before half time.
Aluko was influential in getting Reading moving forward with purpose and Reading began to work the ‘keeper. Esteves was causing havoc cutting inside and making penetrating runs into the heart of the Luton defence as the hosts came under increasing pressure. It seemed only a matter of time before Reading would score. Slugo made a string good saves from Samedo, Esteves and Olise. Aluko missed the best chance to level the scores when he smashed a shot against the bar from close range. An outstanding piece of individual skill by Esteves took him past this marker on the half way line before releasing Baldock, who in turn spun to beat his man and drew a good full stretch save from Slugo. Onen should have tucked away the rebound but his finish lacked power. With a little under fifteen minutes remaining Paunovic began to make changes deciding to throw on Lawless, Tetek, Melvin-Lambert and Camara in place of Baldock, Samdeo, Aluko and Olise. Reading not surprisingly lost their attacking momentum which probably let Luton off the hook. In stoppage time Reading again came close to forcing extra time when Melvin-Lambert’s effort hit the bar and once again Onen was unfortunately unable to take advantage of the rebound.
Although the finishing was not sharp enough in this early Cup exit, the quality of Reading’s second half performance given there were so many young players on the pitch, will be pleasing for Veljko Paunovic. More importantly it looks like he will have pretty much a full strength squad for next week’s crucial game against high flying Brentford.
This FA Cup game took place 163 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.