MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

7 January 2006: FA CUP ROUND 3
Reading: Doyle (84 mins, pen.)
West Brom: Gera (82 mins, pen.)
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 19,197

Replay: 17 Jan 2005,
Madjeski Stadium
Reading: Stack, Makin, Gunnarsson, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Oster, Sidwell, Harper, Hunt (Little 86), Kitson (Doyle 69), Long (Lita 59). Subs Not Used: Hahnemann, Sonko.
West Brom: Kirkland, Albrechtsen, Curtis Davies, Moore, Robinson, Greening (Gera 72), Wallwork, Inamoto (Horsfield 53), Carter, Ellington (Campbell 53), Kanu. Subs Not Used: Chaplow, Kuszczak.
Reading: Makin, Kitson.
West Brom: -
Referee: M Messias (S Yorkshire).

The draw, to set up a replay, was probably the result that neither team wanted. With hindsight Steve Coppell may look back and wished he had fielded a stronger side. With a couple more first choice players in the starting eleven we would perhaps have won this fixture at the first attempt. As it was, Reading made six changes from the usual first choice team as they lined up against a near full strength West Bromwich side. Hahnemann, Sonko, Murty, Convey, Little and Doyle were all rested allowing Shane Long to make his first start for the Royals, Gunnarsson to try out playing at centre back, and Stack, Makin, Hunt and Oster all to start. Despite our weakened team we appeared the better side, and had no problems at all dealing with a Premiership side that looked perhaps worse than some of our Championship opposition so far this season. If this is the standard of the lower half of the Premiership, and if we do go on to secure promotion, then perhaps certain relegation isn't on the cards even with the current squad.

The game had the expected feel - an early round of a cup competition that lacked importance for either side. West Brom swapped a few players out but both their fans and their players didn't really want to concentrate on the game. The home side were guilty of a whole series of mistakes throughout the game - perhaps they'd have taken more care if this was a Premiership fixture with their survival at stake. The conditions were not good, with the game kicking off under heavy snow, but that soon turned to drizzle leaving a slippery pitch that had been cleared of snow before the game kicked off. However that could be no excuse for West Brom, with Reading finding it easier to play the ball around and stay on their feet, especially in the second half.

One of West Brom's biggest mistakes was failing to take an easy lead midway through the first half. The ball took a deflection and looped over Stack in the Reading goal, and with the Baggies' fans already celebrating, it hit against the inside of the post to rebound out. The ball dropped perfectly for Ellington with an empty net and just a couple of yards from goal. Somehow he managed to stand on the ball and waste the easiest chance of the game. It was a sign of things to come as West Brom's game continually broke down with mis-placed passes and slip ups. Reading took the ball quickly down the other end and nearly went ahead themselves when Kitson was played through to go one-on-one against the goalkeeper, with the keeper coming out well to make an important save. However, chances were a rare commodity during the first half with Haper having the only other effort of note that was saved. Stack was having little to do in the Reading goal and entertainment was at a premium as the half finished 0-0.

The biggest cheer of the afternoon so far came in the half time break as the Reading subs took turns to attempt to hit the crossbar in front of the travelling fans. Little and Long hit the target impressively, but Hahnemann drew the most attention with a terrible effort that was closer to the ground (cue "That's why you play in goal" from the Reading fans) before taking the ball to the half way circle and hitting the ball onto the crossbar with his first effort from that distance. Very impressive and all good fun - another example of the excellent team spirit at Reading Football Club that has taken us to within touching distance of the Premiership.

With the game at 0-0 at half time and Reading confortable, they appeared to step up a gear in the second half and looked the more likely side. Gunnarsson was superb in the centre of defence and Makin was a worthy replacement for Murty, leaving West Brom with little chance to score. Long worked hard up front but found himself with no real chance to get a shot in and instead his performance was more concerned with trying to win the ball. As a result, Long was frequently seen sliding all over the pitch causing the West Brom midfield a big headache as they attempted to retain possession. Long put in a beautiful cross in the second half that so nearly saw a connection in the centre, showing he is a player with plenty of future potential. It was good to see Lita return from injury on the hour mark to replace Long, but unfortunately he was unable to have any real impact.

After some scrappy moments, Reading were playing some good second half football, but the game appeared to be slipping towards a 0-0 draw until a powerful West Brom cross from the right with ten minutes left to play saw a home player go flying to the floor in the Reading area. We couldn't see from our distance but Makin had been judged to push the West Brom forward as the ball came in, and the referee pointed at the spot. Stack dived to his right and nearly managed the save, but it couldn't stop the home side taking an unexpected lead. Reading pushed forward, and the reward came just two minutes later, when a defender clearly put his arm on the ball in the area. The Reading fans went mental, and the referee again awarded a penalty, which Doyle firmly dispatched into the back of the net to make it 1-1. With time running out Reading looked very capable of getting a last gasp winner, but were unable to prevent the game going to a replay.



Got an opinion? E-Mail us at
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages