MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

17 January 2006: FA CUP ROUND 3 REPLAY
Reading: Lita (50 mins, 65 mins, 93 mins).
West Brom: Chaplow (9 mins, 32 mins).
Half Time: 0-2
Attendance: 16,737

Reading to face Birmingham City
at home in Round Four.
Reading: Stack, Murty, Sidwell, Gunnarsson, Lita (Cox 101), Hunt, Oster (Osano 107), Harper, Ingimarsson, Makin, Long (Doyle 90). Subs Not Used: Hahnemann, Little.
West Brom: Kirkland, Greening (Dyer 81), Chaplow, Albrechtsen, Carter, Curtis Davies, Ellington, Earnshaw, Wallwork (Nicholson 106), Hodgkiss, Inamoto (Rob Davies 90). Subs Not Used: Elvins, Kuszczak.
Reading: Long, Lita.
West Brom: Wallwork.
Referee: P Taylor (Hertfordshire).

On a night that promised little, with two sides fielding heavily changed sides, Reading fans were entertained by an FA Cup treat as the Royals came from two goals down to beat Premiership West Bromwich Albion 3-2. Leroy Lita stole the headlines with an excellent hat-trick, but it was a fantastic all round team performance from a Reading side with seven changes. Reading had the better of the first half but somehow managed to find themselves two goals down at the break. The second half saw Reading play some excellent football as they made the visitors look very ordinary. Reading were sharper, more determined, and simply a stronger side throughout the game and never gave up despite going two goals behind.

The Royals were quickly back in the game on 51 minutes when Oster crossed and Lita turned inside the box to fire home. Fifteen minutes later and Reading were deservedly level when Lita was played through again and he scored with a delightful long range effort that flew over the keeper and dipped perfectly into the net. Reading looked clear favourites to win the game but had to wait until extra time to score the winner when Harper broke into the box. Harper might have scored but failed to connect, and the ball came loose to Lita who legged it through before driving the ball home for his third. Birmingham City will visit the Madejski Stadium for the fourth round fixture after they overcame Torquay United 2-0 in their replay last night.

When Leroy Lita applied a devastating finish to a flowing incisive series of passes in the sixty-fifth minute, not only did he level the scores he gave Reading such a psychological advantage Albion never looked like restoring their lead. At that point everyone in the ground knew Reading had the quality to go on and win the game. It was Lita who sparked the revival with a sharp turn and a smart finish to bring the Royals back into the game just after half time. Fittingly Lita applied the killer blow early in the first period of extra when he pounced onto a loose ball and smashed it low past Kirkland. Having done his job he was substituted receiving a richly deserved standing ovation. However this was far from being a one man show.

Albion began passing neatly with Greening showing some excellent touches, but Reading were certainly matching them in spite of resting Hahnemann, Shorey, Sonko, Little, Convey, Kitson and Doyle. Against the run of play Chaplow managed to score twice. On each occasion Reading's full backs were caught out of position, Murty for the first, and Makin for the second. Reading created several promising openings but a lack of composure with the finish or the final ball let them down. The Premiership took full advantage and looked to have the game won at 2 - 0 at half time. Long and Lita were working hard and hungry for the ball without really testing Kirkland.

The second half was dominated by Reading. Oster and Hunt both had superb games. Oster was going past players and committing defenders almost every time he got the ball. Hunt's tenacity made him a constant thorn in the side of the Albion defence. Harper and Sidwell worked tirelessly in midfield takling, making forward runs and moving the ball around intelligently. It was remarkable how they all sustained the quality of their play throughout the game. Gunarsson was excellent at centre back. Makin was solid at left back and Long worked hard and showed some nice touches. Stack had to make one good save but apart from that he had a fairly comfortable evening. Referee Paul Taylor gave a string of appalling decisions mainly in favour of the visitors but Reading were not going to be denied by incompetent refereeing. One clear back pass went unpunished mainly because he simply was not concentrating. (I am assuming he does know the laws of the game!)

It was a privilege to be a Reading supporter tonight, as it has been all season. Not only did they win but they did so in style, and on this occasion against Premiership opponents.
John Wells


What a cracker! It seemed as though we spent the entire game in their half. Obviously Lita was outstanding; after Chaplow slotted home his second and Lita scored Reading picked it up a gear and the Baggies seemed to have nothing. Into the second half and our fans got behind the team even more. After the game it was no nice just to be able to slam all those who have been banging on about us not being able to contend with the Premiership standard since Arsenal. Looking forward to Birmingham and dare I say it, travelling to the likes of Anfield, Old Trafford and maybe even paying Arsenal back next year?
Peter Crabtree

That was the best twelve quid's entertainment I've ever had and all those who were not there missed an absolute classic. What can you say apart from bloody brilliant. An unbelievable team performance with Sidwell, Oster, Hunt, Harper and of course Lita absolutely outstanding. Lita's second goal has gone straight into my top top ten Reading goals of all time. Simply priceless. Long live the FA Cup.
Nick Newbury

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