Reading FC Match Report: 2015/2016 Season - FA Cup
READING 3 WEST BROM 1
Reading: P McShane (59), M Hector (72), L Piazon (90)
West Brom: D Fletcher (54).
A simply outstanding performance from the Royals secured a place in the last eight of the FA Cup for the second season in succession. Premier League opponents Albion were outplayed for most of the game as Brian McDermott’s team deservedly moved a step closer to another Wembley appearance. Lucas Piazon’s emphatic finish put the result beyond doubt in stoppage time sparking wild celebrations from players and home fans alike. It was a memorable game and an excellent result.
Coming into the game neither side had been in particularly good form although Albion’s confidence would have been boosted by an away win at Everton last week. Brian McDermott, forced by unavailability of key players gave Cox his first start of the season and opted for a four one four one formation. It was a cautious first half from both teams. Chances were few and far between although Reading looked more likely to seize the initiative with Foster being the busier of the two ‘keepers.
Rakels, making his first start, was neat and tidy playing wide on the left without posing a real threat. Robson-Kanu on the other hand was tormenting Albion’s defence on the right. In one brilliant piece of individual skill his outstanding ball control, strength, and acceleration left three defenders trailing in his wake. Shortly before half time he almost opened the scoring with a header from Norwood’s cross. With the ball coming to him from a difficult angle he managed to flick the ball with some power goalwards to draw a spectacular save from Foster.
Both teams started the second half with greater urgency and the game burst into life nine minutes after the interval. Cooper had a fine game but was guilty of backing away from Fletcher as he broke through into the box which is a not advisable at the best of times but certainly not with a player of his quality. Fletcher accepted the invitation to score and gave Al Habsi no chance with a low drive in to the far corner to give the visitors the lead.
Brian McDermott wasted no time in preparing his substitutes. Cox had and Rakels had both held the ball up well and kept possession but did not quite provide the cutting edge required so it was no surprise to see them replaced by Vydra and Ola John respectively. Reading equalised almost immediately. Obita won free kick which Norwood whipped in superbly. McShane met the cross with a downward header which popped up and over the diving Foster into the net. The game now hung in the balance. There were chances at both ends before Norwood delivered another delightful ball to the far post this time met by a well-timed run from Hector to head past Foster. Suddenly the game had swung in Reading’s favour with almost twenty minutes left to play.
With nothing to lose Albion threw caution to the wind and put the Reading defence under considerable pressure, but the back for hardly put a foot wrong and with Hector looking very much a Premier League quality player just in front of Cooper and McShane Albion could not break through. Robson-Kanu and Ola John looked even more dangerous as Albion committed more players forward. Both players had chances to wrap the game up in the last fifteen minutes. Ola John’s touch let him down with the goal briefly at his mercy, and Robson-Kanu was put through by John but with only Foster to beat dragged his shot wide. Well into stoppage time Vydra’s class shone through as he collected a forward pass wide on the left and appeared to be making for the corner to run down the clock but then quickly assessed a better option. He skipped past his marker and rolled the ball to John who in turn found Piazon inside the box. It was a good chance but still need a good finish and although he had only just come on for Quinn he buried it with style.
At the final whistle, as the home fans and players celebrated their success Olsson manged to talk his way into a yellow card and Brunt was struck by a coin thrown by one his own supporters. A pity for Albion whose supporters had responded magnificently to the minute of applause before the kick-off to commemorate the passing away of Reading’s all-time record scorer Ronnie Blackman earlier this week.
For Reading today it was in every sense an outstanding team performance but there were exceptional individual performances throughout the team. It was one of those days when the manager got his selection, tactics and substitutions right and everyone was at their best. McDermott’s influence on team spirit and morale was there for all to see today but also it is noticeable how players like Obita, Hector, Robson-Kanu and Cooper are improving rapidly under his leadership. Surely it is only a matter of time before the improvement is reflected in their position in the league.
This FA Cup game took place 584 days ago in the 2015/2016 season.