Royals exit cup after Brighton defeat
Saturday 4th January 2014
Reading's dreadful recent form continued, as they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Brighton at the Amex Stadium.
Nigel Adkins said before the game that he would name his strongest line up, but this was obviously not the case, as he made four changes from the draw against Forest on New Years Day. Young Jake Taylor made his first Reading start, while want-away striker Adam le Fondre was also gifted a start and Kaspars Gorkss was brought back into the defence, at the expense of Shaun Cummings.
Adam Federici was another one of those to be brought in and he had a very busy start to the cup game at the Amex. Brighton were having plenty of possession in Reading`s half and Keith Andrews had the first effort at goal, which was deflected uncomfortably for Federici, but the Australian keeper back-pedalled well enough to tip it over his bar.
The home side were bombarding the Reading goal and Andrews came even closer again, as his fine strike from the edge of the area dipped onto the crossbar and out of play. Reading`s first and rare attack almost proved profitable, as McCleary`s good direct run was finished with a good low cross into le Fondre, but couldn`t get the ball out of his feet to have an effort at goal.
You could have argued that Reading`s best player in this game was the woodwork, as it came to the Royals` rescue once again. The youthful and impressive March Solly fired an effort at goal which was well saved by Federici onto the crossbar, before the follow-up header from Ashley Barnes hit the bar once again, despite having an empty goal from 15 yards out.
Oscar Garcia`s side did eventually take the lead though which their dominance deserved, as Barnes held off the challenge from Gorkss well and laying back to Andrew Crofts, whose deflected effort found its way past Federici. Former Swansea midfielder Kenny Agustein almost got a second minutes later, as he evaded challenge after challenge, but delayed his effort and it was eventually blocked.
The half faded out, as the stats showed that Reading did not have a single shot on goal in the entire opening 45 minutes - concerning to say the least. Adkins` side did start the half well though, keeping the ball and playing much more forward and positively, but as ever, no shots on goal to show for it. Le Fondre almost got on the end of a Blackman low cross with a clever flick, but was easy for Brezovan to gather.
Adam Federici was reminding Reading fans of what a quality keeper he still is, as he superbly pushed away an Agustein effort from the edge of the area. Royston Drenthe was introduced by Adkins on the hour mark and almost made an immediate impact, as he showed good feet to drive inside and drag a low effort just wide - Royston is still searching for his first Reading goal.
Brighton would have wanted to finish the game though and came within inches of doing so, as Lewis Dunk got on the end of a corner, but his header fizzed just wide of the post. We were struggling to create any clear cut openings, despite having a good amount of the ball. Le Fondre had a good chance to put the game level though, as he was unmarked from a superb deep Taylor cross, but headed over.
Young Taylor was shown good faith by his manager and almost repaid this faith, coming within inches of finding an equaliser. Brighton failed to clear the ball after good pressure from Reading, but the Welsh under 21 international got on the end of it, only to scuff his effort over the bar on his weaker side. It was the chance that we were craving, but unfortunately fell to the young player.
Reading had run out of ideas and in the dying seconds, Danny Guthrie attempted the spectacular from 25 yards out, but his effort went harmlessly wide, as Adkins` team fell to their fourth defeat in five games and exited the cup at the first attempt. A game once again we didn`t deserve to win and got what we deserved - roll on some incoming owners and hopefully transfers.
Brighton - 4-3-3: Brezovan, Calderon, Greer, El-Abd, Chicksen, Crofts, Agustein, Andrews, March, Forster-Caskey, Barnes
Subs: Ankergen, Dunk, Ward, Ince, Orlandi, Lua Lua, Ulloa
Reading - 4-3-3: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Kelly, Guthrie, Obita, J.Taylor, McCleary, Blackman, Le Fondre
Subs: McCarthy, Sweeney, Keown, Williams, Tanner, Drenthe, Pogrebnyak