Late Long strike sends Royals through
29th Jan 2011
The Royals succeeded where Newcastle failed, and beat Stevenage in the FA Cup. Alan Pardew`s Toon Army came unstuck in round three at Broadhall Way but Brian McDermott`s side put in a professional display and a late Shane Long goal ensured we are in the hat for round 5 for the second successive season.
With Alex Pearce injured and Jimmy Kebe ill, Brian McDermott was forced into two changes with Ivar Ingimarsson and Hal Robson Kanu coming into the starting 11. Noel Hunt was back on the bench but Brian Howard was struggling and didn`t travel to Hertfordshire.
A scrappy start looked to have ended when Michael Bostwick fired in the first effort on target for the home side, but Adam Federici was equal too it whilst at the other end a nice bit of skill saw Andy Griffin break into the area but a poor cross ended on the roof of the net.
The opening goal arrived midway through first period and it was a first goal in Reading colours for Mikele Leigertwood. Jem Karacan won the ball in midfield and with the help of a good advantage, played in his midfield partner who raced forward, with Simon Church and Shane Long looking for the through ball he took a touch to the left and smashed the ball low into the back of the net.
We dominated the rest of the first period despite creating very few chances but Ian Harte went close with a free kick and Long got on the end of a fantastic ball from Jobi McAnuff, but keeper Chris Day was out well to cover.
Church was inches away from doubling the lead early in the second period after collecting the ball and turning well on the edge of the area, but his left footed effort went just over with the keeper well beaten.
The home side grew in confidence as the half went on though and Chris Beardsley headed a great chance over the bar when completely unmarked in the area. They were not going to dwell on that missed opportunity though and sub Rob Sinclair beat three players with ease on his way into the area, where he went down looking for a penalty. It looked a stonewall spot kick from the away end but on seeing the replay it was clear the referee made the right decision as there was clearly no contact from Ingimarsson.
We didn`t learn our lesson though as minutes later Darius Charles picked the ball up and went on a very similar run before curling the ball into the bottom corner of the net. The defending, including what was Matt Mills only mistake of the whole game, will have disappointed the Royals coaching staff.
It looked like there was to be only one winner as the home side laid siege to the Royals goal but in the final five minutes we got a foothold back in the game and went onto score the winner. McAnuff, who was shifted back to the more favoured left hand side when Robson Kanu went off, put in a superb cross and Long reacted to score from all of a yard out.
We could have scored a third in stoppage time when McAnuff went on a brilliant run but after gliding past the Stevenage defence he screwed his effort over the bar with Church screaming for a tap in.
We now progress to round 5 of the FA Cup for the second season in a row, and will be looking for a favourable tie in Sundays draw.
Jobi McAnuff was also excellent, as was Andy Griffin for long spells of the game. A very professional performance from the whole team to come through a potential bananaskin.