Reading FC Match Report: 2015/2016 Season - League Cup


Reading: N Blackman (36)
Everton: R Barkley (62), G Deulofeu (73)

Reading's Capital Cup run came to an end, in spite of a magnificent performance, at the hands of a full strength Everton side currently lying in sixth place in the Premier League. The Royals starting eleven, which included several new signings and squad players unable to secure a regular place in the team so far this season, took everyone by surprise, perhaps with the exception of Steve Clarke, with the quality of their football. After a tentative opening few minutes Reading took the game to their Premier League opponents and outplayed them for most of the first half. The one goal lead at half time was the least they deserved. Sadly the outcome of the tie hinged on a goalkeeping error from Al Habsi just over fifteen minutes from full time after Barkley had restored parity with an unstoppable strike drilled through a crowded penalty area; but even defeat could not detract from the pleasure of watching Reading pass their way through and around a well organised Premier League defence.

Bolstered by almost 4000 traveling Everton fans it was the biggest crowd of the season so far but with so many new faces in the Reading line up there was a slightly apprehensive air about the evening at from the kick-off. Confidence grew quickly amongst the Reading team and although Hurtado was caught in possession on the edge of his own penalty area in the opening minutes it was clear that Piazon, Fernandez, John and Hurtado were comfortable on the ball and capable of picking out a good pass. Barkley was a treat breaking from midfield with pace as was Deulofue on the right flank. A sharp exchange of passes put Blackman in possession on the edge of the box, and the in-form striker playing alone up front, carried the ball across the edge of the area and lashed a shot towards the top corner which Robles managed to deflect over at full stretch. It was clear that Everton had a game on their hands.

Blackman almost cut the Everton defence in half with an excellent diagonal ball which Stones just reached as it was about run to Piazon in the clear inside the box. Blackman had a good chance but was put under pressure as he shaped to finish and was unable to hit the target and Cooper almost poked in a ball flicked on from a corner at the far post. Tishibola drew another good save from Robles with a blistering long range strike as Reading swarmed all over the Everton defence. The goal Reading’s play deserved came in the thirty-sixth minute. It was a flowing move from deep in the Reading half which ended with a burst of speed and brilliant deep cross to the far post by John which took out Robles and was met by Blackman who demonstrated fantastic anticipation and determination to beat an Everton defender to the ball and hammer home from close range. Confidence had grown throughout the team as illustrated when Cooper held off Kone to allow the ball to run for a goal kick just before half time whereas earlier in the half he had settled for putting the ball out of play for a corner under similar circumstances. (Unfortunately on this occasion the referee must have been unsighted and gave another corner!)

Everton made the expected comeback in the second half. Martinez made a tactical substitution at half time replacing Kone with Barry which released Barkley to forage further up field. Everton dominated possession in the opening minutes but Reading still had the belief in their passing ability to work the ball forward when the opportunity arose. John sent a long range effort just over from long range. It was powerful strike generated with hardly any backlift. Two minutes later Everton equalised when Barlkey pounced on a half clearance and scored with a venomous shot from twenty yards. A good goal from an undoubtedly good player. It seemed likely the game would go into extra time until Deulofeu, who had not endeared himself to the home fans with a blatant dive in the first half (which surprisingly did not draw a yellow card) scored courtesy of an error from Al Habsi. The second choice ‘keeper reached the shot low to his right but in spite of getting a hand behind the ball he allowed the ball to roll inside the post. Everton played out the match in the manner expected from a team of their ability to without too much difficulty. Reading forced a string of corners, Gunter got behind the defence but failed to pick out a Reading player with a cut back, and Williams shot over from a good position outside the box.

The result was disappointing but the performance was further evidence of how much progress the club have made since the summer. There are some very exciting options within the squad and a significant improvement in the quality of touch and passing particularly from the new recruits. It was however, not all about the new players though this evening. Taylor was excellent at left back particularly with his assured first touch, composure and concentration. Cooper looked very solid against Premier League opposition. Everyone on the pitch this evening looked capable stepping into the team and performing well, but Tshibola looks far too good to be left out of the starting eleven on Saturday
John Wells

This League Cup game took place 1540 days ago in the 2015/2016 season.