News and Views
Bradford -v- Reading - Match Preview
06 March 2015
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Reading have sold out their allocation of 4,300 for tomorrow's trip to Bradford City in the quarter final of the FA Cup. The game kicks-off at 12:45pm and will be shown live, and free to view, on BT Sport 1. Unless Reading go on an extended winless run in the Championship, the Royals are set for a mid-table finish in the league, leaving this as the biggest match of the season so far. Up for grabs for the winners is a trip to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final. Reading, of course, have only reached the semi-finals once in their entire history, and that was way back in 1927. If Reading can win at Bradford, it really would be history in the making.
Reading's last quarter final appearances were in 2010 and 2011. Both of those games saw Reading in the Championship facing Premier League opposition. In 2010 we were at home to Aston Villa and raced into a two goal lead before half time thanks to two goals from Shane Long. Reading fans felt that second semi-final was in reach until the visitors hit back with four second half goals and ended the dream. The following season we made it into the last eight once again but went out to a single goal with just fifteen minutes left to play at Manchester City. Four years later and we have another opportunity for a last four spot.
Bradford last reached the semi-finals in 1911 - when they went on to lift the FA Cup. This is Bradford's first FA Cup quarter final since 1976.
Reading will have it all to do as they travel to Bradford City as underdogs. The League One side may be slightly below Reading in the football pyramid but Phil Parkinson's side have home advantage and their amazing cup form on their side. Having already put out Chelsea and Sunderland in the competition, many expect them to brush Reading aside as they continue their march towards another Wembley cup final. Those backing the Royals will point out that Reading have won away to Championship opposition in all the previous rounds this season. Bradford should be considered similar opposition and remain beatable if Reading are up for this game. This will also be the first time in recent history that Bradford City have played such a high profile game where they are expected to win - which will hopefully ease the pressure on Reading.
Early rounds of the FA Cup are all about squad rotation and experimenting with the team in front of reduced crowds. That's all gone out of the window now as Bradford and Reading find themselves thrust into the spotlight as the two lowest ranked sides still in the competition. Both managers will be looking to put out their best eleven with the winning side set to collect some useful prize money and the huge exposure a semi-final appearance would bring.
Steve Clarke has been mucking about with his team selection over the past few weeks as he tries to work out exactly what his best team is. After Saturday's 0-3 home defeat to Nottingham Forest it was back to the drawing board for the Reading manager. He then made two changes and saw his team set to lose 0-1, before Jamie Mackie's stoppage time equaliser from nowhere earned Reading a point at Bolton. Mackie will be hoping to start again, but Simon Cox should also be available. Bradford City have winger Filipe Morais back for selection and one of their stand out players this season Gary Liddle returns after a suspension.
So, Reading head into the match on a poor run of form, having scored just two goals in the last five games and languishing in 18th place in the Championship. Mackie's goal at Bolton might have been vital in stopping the rot and giving us reason for some hope at Braford. Meanwhile, Bradford are challenging for promotion. City are just one point, with a game in hand, outside the play-off positions. Thankfully their form, ignoring their FA Cup heroics, isn't entirely consistant either. They were 1-0 winners over Crawley on Tuesday night but suffered two away defeats before that. Their home form is excellent though with four wins and two draws from their last six games. Those stats don't look good for Reading.
Head to head, Reading have won just two out our last ten meetings, with five draws. Our last fixture at Valley Parade was all the way back in 2004 when we lost 1-2 with Kitson on the scoresheet. The last time the two sides met in a cup competition was in the League Cup in 1999. Reading were the lower league side back in those days, and the game was over two legs. The Royals nearly caused a shock after drawing 1-1 away and 2-2 at home in a game that included that amazing goal from Keith Scott. Despite the two draws Reading went out on the away goals rule.
Bradford's route to the quarter finals:
- Round 1: Halifax 1 Bradford 2
- Round 2: Bradford 4 Dartford 1
- Round 3: Millwall 3 Bradford 3
- Round 3R: Bradford 4 Millwall 0
- Round 4: Chelsea 2 Bradford 4
- Round 5: Bradford 2 Sunderland 0
Reading's route to the quarter finals:
- Bradford win: 8/5 (favourites)
- Reading win: 2/1
- Draw: 9/4
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