Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - FA Cup


Reading: Y Meite (8)
Cardiff: C Paterson (5)

Reading will be in the draw for the Fifth Round of the F.A. Cup on Monday having survived a late second half onslaught from a very physical Cardiff City team. The Royals fought a gritty rearguard action with a very youthful side depleted by the loss of both centre backs Matt Miazga, due to injury, and McIntyre's dismissal due a second yellow card after eighty minutes. In the final ten minutes Reading's back four consisted of four very youthful and relatively inexperienced squad members ably supported by the experienced McCleary and Charlie Adam. Reading deserved to earn a replay for their team spirit, resilience, and resolve against a bombardment of long throw-ins, corners and free kicks. Cardiff's best chance to press home their numerical and territorial advantage was squandered by Bamba ten minutes from time when the Cardiff centre back remarkably put his header wide from two yards at the far post with Walker stranded by the other post. Possibly a contender for the miss of the season.

The game exploded in to life in the opening minutes when Flint rose to knock down a ball at the far post and Paterson reacted first to poke the ball past Walker. It was end to end stuff. Meite drew a save from Smithies at the near post after wriggling past his marker. Glatzel fizzed a shot past the post.

Reading equalized two minutes after falling behind. Adam floated a ball in behind the City defence and Meite’s first touch was excellent, and he fired the ball low inside the post with his second before running off to celebrate, removing his shirt as he did so for an inevitable yellow card. Meite could be forgiven for his reaction given the recent loss of his father, and his tears and a consoling pat on the shoulder from a Cardiff player put it all in perspective.

It was a lively open game and chances came at either end. Miete was twice denied when first his shot was blocked, and then later by an offside flag when he slammed in the rebound after a delightful run and shot by Aluko. Vaulks came close with a very good strike from outside the box which flew just past the upright with Walker beaten. Charlie Adam was spraying passes around and Richards was linking play well down the left. Reading were playing the better football and Miazga and McIntyre were coping well with the Cardiff attack in the air. Charlie Adam’s presence was a crucial influence on Reading’s youthful side. McIntyre was harshly given a yellow card on the stroke of half time when Glatzel ran into him having lost possession of the ball. It was later to prove crucial decision and illustrated referee Marc Edwards’ lack of experience which was evident throughout the game. The only real blemish on the first half was the warning announcement that there had been inappropriate chanting from the away fans. To their credit, the warning seemed to be heeded by the majority of the City following.

The second half was a very different story as City’s physical dominance began to tell and Reading struggled to get out of their own half. If Mark Bowen had been prepared to risk including a couple of players on the bench able to hold the ball up front it might have been a different story. Loader was disappointing to say the least, although in his defence he was up against central defenders with a significant advantage in height and strength. Defensively Reading were as solid as a rock and Rinomhota and McCleary were outstanding in their defensive midfield role. A serious injury to Miazga after sixty-six minutes made Reading’s task more difficult as Osho was thrown in at the deep end to fill his central defensive position. With fifteen minutes remaining House replaced the anonymous Loader to offer something different up front. His chance to make an impact was extremely brief. McIntyre’s dismissal fifteen minutes for a second (and this time deserved) yellow card resulted in the young debutant being sacrificed to bring on Burley to fill the second centre back vacancy of the afternoon.

It was backs against the wall time for Reading now, and how admirably they responded. There was no hint of panic or fear in the way this diverse blend of young and experienced saw the game out. Reading fans now have a not only a team, but a squad of whom they can feel proud. No team in in this division will relish playing Reading these days. The attitude of so many players is significantly more positive than earlier in the season. They now play with more confidence, belief and determination which is a tribute to Mark Bowen’s management style.

John Wells

This FA Cup game took place 1105 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.