Match Report: 2009/2010 Season

Reading: Long (27 mins, 42 mins)
Aston Villa: Ashley Young (47 mins), Carew (51 mins, 57 mins, 90 mins - pen).
Half Time: 2-0.
Attendance: 23,175

Pos Team P Pts GD
17 Watford 32 39 -5
18 READING 32 38 -9
19 Ipswich 34 38 -9
Reading: Federici, Mills, Griffin, Ingimarsson, Bertrand, Tabb, Howard (Gunnarsson, 59), Kebe, Sigurdsson, Long, Church (Rasiak, 71). Subs not used: Hamer, Matejovsky, Pearce, Henry, Robson-Kanu.
Aston Villa: Friedel, Warnock, Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Downing (Sidwell, 89), Milner, Ashley Young, Petrov, Heskey, Carew. Subs not used: Luke Young, Guzan, Delph, Delfouneso, Albrighton, Beye.
Reading: Sigurdsson, Tabb.
Sheff Wed: Ashley Young, Collins, Dunne, Milner.
Ref: M L Dean (Wirral).
At half time Reading fans were beginning to seriously consider an improbable appearance in the F A Cup semi finals after Shane Long had given the Royals a deserved two goal advantage. Reading not only had the lead but they had outplayed their Premier League opponents. Matt Mills made light of the task of containing John Carew and both Villa centre backs were on yellow cards. The home fans had every right to be optimistic but they were given little time to savour the fine first half display as the Royals defence disintegrated in spectacular fashion in a ten minute spell immediately after the interval. Bertrand failed to clear and Young took full advantage lashing the ball high into the net from close range to set everyone on edge. Carew weighed in with two goals in quick succession as Reading looked suddenly incredibly vulnerable. Reading's fans were stunned and the Villa fans gloated seeming to take more pleasure from Reading's demise that their own team's success. Martin O'Neill praised his fans after the game for getting behind their team, obviously choosing to ignore their boos at the half time whistle! Reading fans on the other hand were worthy of praise applauding their defeated team off the field and giving Steve Sidwell a generous round of applause when he came on soon after Carew had completed the scoring from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

The came started quietly with Villa looking far from comfortable at the back. Long and Church were prepared to chase every ball and Kebe was posing a real threat with his direct running. Both sides found the net only to have the goal disallowed but the Reading defence contained the Villa attack with relative ease. Royals pressure began to build and Tabb came close with a superbly struck volley which was deflected over. From the resulting corner Mills flicked the ball on for Long to nod home from close range. A slick move almost produced a second goal as Reading carved open the Villa defence only for Sigurdsson's shot to be blocked. Just before half time Reading created a goal of outstanding quality. Kebe burst through and produce a brilliant cut back for Long who calmly stroked the ball past Friedel into the corner of the net. Wembley looked on the cards!

The second half was eagerly anticipated although for Reading fans the fear of letting a promising position slip produced nagging doubts. An early goal was real worry. I am sure Brian McDermott would have given the obligatory 'keep it tight for the first quarter' talk. All to no avail as Reading's worst fears were realised with Young's early gift and the collapse that followed. Reading, to their credit, rallied and Villa had to make a couple of goal line clearances to keep their lead in tact. Villa in fact only looked better than Reading for ten minutes but what a ten minutes they were. All hope was extinguished when Ingimarsson conceded a penalty with a tired lunge on Carew in stoppage time.

There were again some very good individual performances again, but Tabb in particular stood out for his phenomenal work rate and appetite for the ball Reading fans will feel disappointed having seen such a good position slip but can console themselves with the memory of a first half performance the like of which should see their team pull away from the drop zone before too long. They will not have to face teams with Villa's fire power again this season.
John Wells

What a shame, what a mad mental 12 minutes when we let Villa back in, if only Betrand had not made a complete balls up of a clearance just one minute into the second half leading to their first goal, who knows what would have happened? Is it only Reading who do this to their fans? Shades of Bolton 95 came flooding back as we all starting dreaming of a big day out at Wembley in the semis and god forbid winning the FA Cup which would surely satisfy and mean most Reading fans would ultimately meet their maker in heaven a contented fan. Talk about a game of two halves, we were fantastic in the first half and thoroughly deserved our two nil lead but then the rest is painful history. Three home games next and a shred of the way we played in the first half should ensure Championship football next season then the long long road back to the so called promised land that is the Premiership. If we play like we did for half the game today that's not such a dream, as for the next time we get a whiff of FA Cup glory I fear many of us won't be around to witness it.
Nick Newbury

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Championship strugglers Reading had looked on course for another FA Cup shock as two Shane Long goals carved out a 2-0 half-time lead for the home side, who outplayed their more illustrious rivals in a superb first-half display. But Villa responded with three goals in 10 minutes early in the second half, Ashley Young starting the fightback before Carew took over in devastating fashion... Brian McDermott's side played with the confidence earned from a cup run that has already been decorated by the Premier League scalps of Liverpool and Burnley, as well as Championship high-fliers West Bromwich Albion. Jimmy Kebe, in particular, looked lively for the Royals and, against a side boasting one of the finest collections of wing talent in English football, the Mali wide man looked determined to steal the show... The momentum was clearly with Reading, and it took a vital block from Dunne to prevent Villa falling further behind when Sigurdsson started and finished a flowing Reading move involving Church and Long. But the home side did extend their advantage minutes later as Sigurdsson carved open the Villa defence with a perfectly weighted pass and Kebe sprinted clear before cutting the ball back for Long to slide home.
Reading boss Brian McDermott:
"If you are going to lose a game, that is how you lose it. We played really well in the first half and knew if we could keep it tight for 15 minutes in the second half we'd have a chance but that didn't happen. But I am proud of every single one of our players and it is just a shame we couldn't get through for our fans."

BBC Sport

At 2-0 down against Reading at half-time at the Madejski Stadium, in an absorbing FA Cup quarter-final, O’Neill could have been forgiven for believing that the fates were conspiring against him. Villa were going nowhere, apart from out of the competition at the hands of the Coca-Cola Championship side. Game of two halves? The contrast was remarkable, Reading having sliced through the Villa cover time and again in an invigorating first period. They had not played in the last eight of the competition for 83 years and had not played at Wembley — the reward for the winners yesterday — since losing 4-3 to Bolton Wanderers in a dramatic first division play-off final in 1995. They wanted to return, badly. ... The conquerors of Liverpool, Burnley and West Bromwich Albion tore into Villa and were rewarded when Shane Long, back from a four-match suspension, nodded in a flick-on by Matt Mills from Brian Howard’s corner. Four minutes before the break Long finished a scintillating move also involving Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jimmy Kebe...
The Times