Reading started the game with just a couple of changes from the team that so successfully stuffed Oxford last Sunday. The most notable change was the return of Nicky Hammond in the goal - his first game since a series of injuries last season - replacing Bibbo (injured). No sign of Mihaylov! Caskey also made a return to the starting line-up after being dropped a few weeks ago and making his comeback against Oxford as a sub. Reading adopted their 4-4-2 formation from Sunday.
The Royals started well, quickly collapsed under West Brom pressure, lost their grip on the game, then made a last 15 minute comeback looking like they might save the game. At least they battled.
Reading started brightly, still obviously on a high after the live TV victory - immediately looking sharper than the home side. Reading's good start paid off after 4 minutes when Bodin crossed the ball from the right to find Nogan whose header hit the bar and was then rescued on the line by a West Brom arm. Morley stepped up to take the resulting penalty and put the ball into the net. 1-0 to the Royals!
Instead of sitting back the Royals kept coming forward with some excellent positive passing football. Holsgrove had a header hit the crossbar and Morley tried a nice little chip which flew over the bar. At the other end West Brom looked dangerous on the break but luckily Nicky Hammond was up to them. Moments later Gooding saved Reading with a crucial tackle.
Morley almost added to the lead with a blast over the bar when all of a sudden, with the home crowd starting to get pissed off, West Brom equalised against the run of play on 35 minutes. Andy Hunt got the ball for West Brom on the edge of the area and let it go - blasting it into the net, giving Hammond no chance. 1-1. West Brom then started playing and Reading stopped.
From a freekick that man Hunt beat the off-side trap and his header was just wide. But then he popped up yet again, just on the stroke of half-time, to give West Brom the lead. From the right side of the area Hunt chipped the ball over Hammond and into the right corner of the net. 1-2 to West Brom at half time but Reading playing well.
Meaker came on for Williams at half time. Hopefully not an injury to Martie? Just into the second half West Brom just missed out making it three. A 'Brom winger legged it down the right, past the on loan Kenny Brown, and crossed the ball into the middle where the header went just over the bar. With West Brom beginning to really control the game Reading used up their remaining two substitutions. Wdowczyk went off to be replaced by Quinn, with Holsgrove moving back into the defence and Parkie coming off the bench and onto the pitch. West Brom responded by pushing forward some more, as Reading's bright start seemed a distant memory, and a shot just missed the Reading post.
Then it was no suprise when it went 1-3 to West Brom and even more no surprise to see Hunt put it in for his hat-trick. A high ball came deep into the Reading half, Holsgrove lost out, the ball came to Hunt. Hunt took it wide of Hammond and slid the ball in from close range. Then it could have been four. Caskey sat there on the half way line to allow West Brom to get a 3 on 2. The resulting shot was brilliantly tipped over by Hammond.
Then the Royals pulled one back. The cross was a prefect one from Meaker and as it came in there was Parkie with an excellent header into the net. 2-3! This goal signalled a Reading revival and the R's started looking for an equalizer. With about 10 minutes of the game remaining Reading enjoyed a great period of pressure that could have so almost pulled the game level. There was some great positive running down the right from Meaker as Reading started putting some more moves together - playing like they did at the start of the game. Morley played a great ball to Quinn - forcing a good save from the West Brom keeper. Then a superb move saw the ball cleared off the line. Caskey played the ball to Morley, the ball came to Brown who put in the cross to Quinn. The keeper fumbled Morley's attempt and the ball was hoofed clear from the line.
Bernal had a header over the bar from a Gooding free kick on the Reading left. Bodin played in another cross giving Parkie another great attempt on goal forcing the West Brom keeper to touch it over the bar for a Reading corner. Gooding took the corner and Morley's header was way over the bar. And then it was all over. 2-3 to West Brom.
So a great game with lots of end to end stuff but Reading unable to grab the equaliser at the end. Caskey once again didn't have a brilliant game and the defence once again let 3 past them which isn't good news. But we played well for patches and battled like buggery towards the end.