Team: Hammond, Booty, Swales, Bernal, Davies, Parkinson, Bowen, Hodges (Caskey), Morley, Lovell (Meaker), Lambert.
Simon Bird's Opinion...
The Royals have, in the past, clearly demonstrated their ability to raise their game when playing some of the so-called "big teams" in division 1. Last night, it seems, they have equally the same ability to lower their game out of respect for the opposition.
Cheltenham did not look to be much of a threat until they had a penalty awarded and went 1-0 up. After that they looked the equal of Reading and appeared to have a much bigger appetite for the game.
Parkinson really shone last night - looked like the only player who wanted to play. Had a couple of long-range shots on goal. Hammond made a few crucial saves from close range and nearly got to saving the penalty. Bowen did little on either of the wings to take the defenders on.
Morley, for some reason, decided to abandon his usual tactic of falling over in the box and looked ineffective but at least pulled one back for us. Davies, from what I could see, was at fault for the penalty. Lambert whose skill should really have been apparent couldn't be arsed.
Bullivant appears to have forgotten he had five subs to choose from and brought on Meaker (for Lovell) and Caskey (for Hodges) far too late in the game.
Skippy made some basic errors - couldn't pass to our man on occasions. Swales had a mare.
The Royals really were not up for it last night - due credit and respect to Cheltenham for giving a great account of themselves.
The replay is going to be next Tuesday. If Cheltenham win I for one will not be at all surprised.
The 6,000 crowd were privileged to see one of the most exciting matches seen at Whaddon Road for many years as the GMVC side held and sometimes outplayed their more illustrious opponents. Reading however started very well and created clear cut chances for Parkinson, Swales, Lovell and Morley, with Steve Book, superb on the night, saving magnificently from Swales and Parkinson, even Reading goalkeeper Nicky Hammond joined in the applause for one of the saves. As we were beginning to think how much longer could the Robins hold out the game turned dramatically after 22 minutes when a ball upfield fell to Walker, just inside the penalty box, his feet were taken away from him by Gareth Davies, and from the resultant spot kick Dale Watkins slotted home his 17th goal of the season. 1-0 to the Robins!!, the goal seemed to give the Robins a lot of confidence as they took hold of the game, with Lee Howells making some surging runs through the middle. From one attack Bob Bloomer headed agonisingly just over and Jamie Victory had a header saved just on the line from a brilliant Walker cross, and a flowing move between Walker and Watkins just broke down when Walker pull back went just behind the onrushing forward. Reading continued to look dangerous though and Book was called upon several times to thwart some more dangerous shots. In the second half Reading came out with the obvious game plan to keep feeding ex Birmingham winger Jason Bowen, and he gave Jimmy Smith and Jamie Victory a hectic time. Robins broke out rarely, but when they did they too could have scored, but the inevitable equaliser came just 19 minutes from time , just after Jimmy Smith was replaced by Steve Benton, with the defence re-organising Bowen again got down the right, and from his cross, the ball wriggled free to Morley, who shot into the corner, Steve Book really had no chance. Both sides then went for the winner, and Robins may be could have nicked it when Keith Knight shot over from 10 yards with the half empty goal beckoning but the ball bobbled on the by now treacherous surface, and the chance to re-write the history books had gone. On the night all the lads played out of their skins and should take great satisfaction from this performance. This result is indication of the fantastic improvements that have been made over the past year, and lets hope that we can hang on to SC long enough for this fabulous run of results and performances to continue. Well done lads, well done supporters also , who were brilliant. A really good night for the club, its fans and lets hope the media give us the recognition the performance deserves.......
Cheltenham 1 Reading 1By Clive Baskerville GARETH DAVIES breathed a huge sigh of relief last night when Trevor Morley saved Reading's blushes by sweeping in the late equaliser that kept their FA Cup hopes alive. The 24-year-old centre-back had conceded the first half penalty that separated the sides and looked like helping the Conference club to a shock third-round win in atrocious muddy conditions. Morley's timely goal was his seventh of the season and was no more than Royals deserved, although Davies thinks there's still plenty of improvement to come especially from himself. He said: "I can't see Cheltenham coping as well at Elm Park. Our surface will be much better and that should enable us to play up to standard. Their heavy pitch didn't help us because we couldn't pass the ball as well as usual. Davies was particularly hard on his own display, saying: consider myself lucky because I reckon I had a bad game. It's certainly the worst I've played since I joined the club. "It wasn't for the lack of trying. Everything I did just wasn't good enough. I improved a bit in the second half, but I'm going to take the next few days thinking about my performance and ways I can improve on it." After dominating for the first 20 minutes, Reading suddenly found themselves in deep trouble after Davies was penalised by referee Ken Leach for a late tackle on veteran winger Clive Walker. But Davies isn't convinced his challenge was worth a spot kick. He said: "There was some contact, but it was just a block from behind and he (Walker) dived in front of me. Robins' leading scorer Dale Watkins sidefooted the penalty just beyond the fingers of Nicky Hammond to send the home fans wild with delight" Cheltenham proceeded to play the better football for the remainder of the half and, even after the equaliser, created the clearer chances in the closing stages as Reading's stretched defence were often embarrassed for pace. Morley's strike followed a neat one-two with Stuart Lovell on the edge of the box. The former West Ham striker said: "I hit the ball well and it just skidded under the body of the goalkeeper (Steve Book) and into the net. I was disappointed with the way we played after we scored because we seemed to sit back and let Cheltenham come at us. Up to that point we'd dominated possession". After being one down it was not a bad result. The important thing is we're still in the hat and it's up to us now to make home advantage count in the replay. As expected, Reading made two changes to the side that drew 1-1 at home to Bury on Saturday in the Nationwide League Division 1. Phil Parkinson returned from a two-match ban to skipper the side in midfield at the expense of Darren Caskey, while Lovell was named up front in place of the suspended Carl Asaba. Royals named five substitutes including goalkeeper Sal Bibbo and young midfielder Byron Glasgow. Reading began at a tremendous pace in driving rain, forcing five corners in the first 10 minutes and would have been at least two up if Book, a nephew of former Manchester City boss Tony Book, hadn't been in such good form. The ex-Forest Green Rovers keeper was called into action in the fifth minute to make a fine stop from Steve Swales' 25-yard volley. He made an even better save soon afterwards when Parkinson's dipping volley from the edge of the box took a deflection off Chris Banks and Book superbly tipped the ball over the bar. Morley and Lovell then both had efforts blocked during a goalmouth scramble, while Lee Hodges hit a left-foot effort at Book. Cheltenham's only reply had been a slice wide from Bob Bloomer after a Lee Howells counter-attack. Disaster struck for Royals on 23 minutes when the lively Walker was going nowhere on the edge of the box before Davies clipped him from behind. Walker dropped to the floor and Mr Leach had no hesitation in awarding the penalty. Hammond guessed right by diving to his left but just failed to keep WATKINS' shot out. He said: "It was just too high and the ground was slippery so I couldn't get the right purchase from the pitch. I just managed to get my fingertips to it but couldn't stop the ball. The confidence surged back into Cheltenham's play and it was Reading's turn to defend. A looping header from 25 yards by Watkins drifted just over, then the rock-solid Andy Bernal made a last-ditch challenge to deny the same player. Hammond made an excellent save from a diving header by Jamie Victory on 29 minutes after a good cross by Walker. The ex-Chelsea star was involved again moments later when his flick was knocked over by ex-Royal Keith Knight. A little later, Watkins shot narrowly over following a flick on by Victory. The former Gloucester striker went close again soon after the restart with a 30-yard chip. Book produced his best save when he stopped a blistering volley from Davies after Morley had nodded on Jason Bowen's corner. Hammond came to Royals' rescue with a point-blank block from Watkins. This seemed to spark them to life and MORLEY drove in as Robins' defence, for once, struggled to cope with some slick passing. Knight should have put Cheltenham back in front on 82 minutes with a good chance after a Bloomer break. Substitute Jason Eaton was also close in injury-time, slicing wide when under pressure. Morley and Bowen were booked for Reading, while Mark Freeman was yellow-carded for Robins. CHELTENHAM: Book, Duff, Victory, Banks, Freeman, Knight, Howells, Walker (Eaton 75mins), Smith (Benton 70mins), Watkins, Bloomer. Subs (not used): Crisp, Wright, Milton. READING: Hammond, Booty, Swales, Bernal, Davies, Parkinson, Bowen, Hodges (Caskey 85mins), Morley, Lovell (Meaker 81mins), Lambert. Subs (not used): Thorp, Bibbo, Glasgow. Referee: Ken Leach (Codsall). Attendance: 6,000.