Reading FC Match Report: 2014/2015 Season - FA Cup


Reading: O Norwood (64), H Robson-Kanu (88).
Cardiff: K Jones (25).

Reading FC forgot their Championship woes and secured a place in the FA Cup 5th round with a resurgent second half display at the Cardiff City Stadium. It was substitute Hal Robson-Kanu’s late winner that separated the teams. A cool lob finish to answer his critics.

Steve Clarke made two changes to the team that suffered an unlucky defeat at Fulham the week previous. Blackman replacing Hal Robson-Kanu and Nathanial Chalobah making his debut in centre midfield in place of Simon Cox.

During the first half Reading struggled to make an impression on the game. With Gareth McCleary failing to find the space to cause damage, Reading lacked the guile to open up the Cardiff City defence. Pavel Pogrebnyak for all his endeavour, fails to work the channels that would stretch the opposition defence. Without the width Reading’s play can then be compacted into the central areas. Gaps in and around the box are limited and the best hope of goal rests with any set pieces the Royals can win.

Oliver Norwood drove a shot from distance over the top in the 10th minute. Pogrebynak turning a Gunter cross straight to the keeper in the 13th minute. This was followed by a drilled shot from McCleary in the 18th minute, which was well saved. Chances, for both Reading and Cardiff, were limited. Both teams appearing to lack confidence.

Cardiff took the lead in the 23rd minute as the Royals switched off from a corner. Whittingham sent an out swinging corner to the near post as Micheal Hector failed to track a Kenwyne Jones run. The corner drifted over the flat footed Chalobah allowing Jones power a header into the net. The goal failed to inspire a reaction from Reading. Chalobah, whilst looking to have good positional awareness, was match rusty. His passing in particular was sloppy although little movement from his static Reading teammates did nothing to help. At this point, Nick Blackman was doing his impression of the invisible man and Jordan Obita was failing to push past the halfway line. Reading’s play looked slow, cumbersome and uninventive. Gunter was replaced by Stephen Kelly in the 35th minute. He turned on his ankle and will surely miss the critical relegation battle against Millwall on Tuesday night.

Apart from a scrambled effort from Pogrebnyak in the 32nd minute, the Royals were restricted to efforts from distance for the remainder of the first half. Shots that failed to trouble the keeper that left you wondering where the goal would come from in the second half. The three in midfield, whilst adding a backbone to the team, left Pogrebnyak isolated. No-one got close to support him during the first half and even with the best hold up play, the lack of an on rushing midfielder left Reading toothless.

The second half start was encouraging. Reading appeared to push further up the pitch as a unit. It enabled the midfield three to pick the ball up in more dangerous areas. This was evident in the 47th minute as Norwood picked the ball up just outside the area, his shot was deflected and looping towards the net. The keeper back tracking managing to push the ball for a corner.

As Reading started to press higher up the pitch, support Pogrebnyak and get players into wider areas the Royals started to control the game. A goal now felt imminent and it came in the 64th minute. Hard working Pogrebnyak forced a foul within range of the Cardiff goal. Obita and Norwood lined up behind the ball. The Cardiff keeper shift left before the ball was struck enabled Norwood to place a low shot past the wall into the bottom corner. His celebration indicating he owed that goal to Steve Clarke.

The goal sparked Reading to push for a winner. Crosses were now raining into the Cardiff area. Blackman driving a dangerous cross just out of reach of Pogrebnyak in the 65th minute. Obita finding a back peddling Blackman in the 73rd minute. Kelly with a weak header from an Obita cross in the 79th minute.

Hal Robson-Kanu replaced Nick Blackman in the 82nd minute. He almost found the net from a Norwood / Obita short corner in the 85th minute. Flicking a header towards goal that brought a good save from Moore. Where Steve Clarke’s Reading push for the win at Fulham had spectacularly failed, it was rewarded at Cardiff. His drive to push for a win is applauded. In the 85th minute Obita lifted a fine ball towards the space around the penalty spot. Hal Robson-Kanu ran across his marker hungry to meet the cross. His guided lob was sublime and it drifted over the Cardiff goalkeeper and brought the 2000 travelling fans to their feet. The goal and result was fully deserved on a much improved second half performance. It will send the team in with much needed confidence to a must win clash with Millwall on Tuesday night. Reading are certainly looking more solid than at any other point this season and if the attacking intent can become more clinical you would except league results to soon turn.

With big names falling foul of lacklustre FA performances, Reading run in the FA Cup could be far from over.
Dave Roberts

This FA Cup game took place 2558 days ago in the 2014/2015 season.