Wednesday, January 18, 2006

BOING-BOING Reading 3-2 West Bromwich Albion

Reading bounced the boing-boing Baggies, 5 times FA Cup winners, out of the FA Cup in memorable style last night, recovering from a two goal half time defecit to eliminate their Premiership opponents after extra-time.

West Bromwich Albion are hardly the most proficient of top flight sides but it must be remembered that they have already beaten Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City in the Premiership this season and Reading's achievement in bouncing back to win, despite having made 6 changes to the starting line-up from Saturday's win over Coventry, should not be in any way devalued.

Yet the much changed Royals second string struggled early on doors on a gluepot pitch suffering the effects of the seasonal weather and the trampling nuisance of 30 egg-chasers every fortnight. Welcoming back Leroy Lita, by now fully fit, Coppell chose to pair the £1 million record signing with the fresh-faced and eager Shane Long and the new partnership took time to gel. Reading initially struggled to get wingers Oster and Hunt into the game and our usual free-flowing game stuttered under the sheer weight of team changes. West Brom, fielding a strong side a little over 48 hours after a rare Premiership away win at Wigan, took the lead after less than 9 minutes; Wallwork's clever ball inside the dozing Murty was finished off with some aplomb by CHAPLOW. Reading's attempts to hit back were honest in their endeavour and mediocre in quality; Hunt had a series of mediocre crosses cleared easily at the near post and when we did work a good move to the front two Long snatched at Hunt's knock-down from Oster's long centre. Just after the half hour West Brom's supporters were once again bouncing with delight in their own familiar style as Stack could not deal with Ellington's well struck effort from Carter's cross efficiently enough and CHAPLOW was there to gleefully tap home. The Baggies fans delighted in taunting the home crowd with taunts of "2-0 to the Premier League."

But that two goal lead did not last for very long after the interval. The impish Oster found Lita 10 yards out with a clever pass and the little frontman controlled and rolled the ball low past Chris Kirkland. Game on. From then on it was almost all one-way traffic as Reading dominated their Premiership opposition with the usual tight passing and free-flowing attacking football, stretching the Baggies in every area of the pitch as Ellington and Earnshaw hardly got a look-in at the other end, save some smart near-post work from Stack smothering Chaplow's cross-shot with the opponents front pairing waiting in anticipation. West Brom survived a suspicious-looking pass-back appeal, waved away by the often puzzling referee Taylor, and a typical Sidwell fizzer less than a foot wide of the post before LITA did make one count from distance midway through the half - Long and Harper combined to set him up for a 25-yard lob over Kirkland, a stunning goal which sent the MadStad crowd loopy with delight. "2-0 and you fucked it up!"

Stack had to be on hand to deny Ellington at his near post after a rare WBA raid bypassed Makin, but it was Reading looking the more likely to win it in normal time with Oster inspired and Lita foiled from a freekick. Young Long limped off with cramp and Doyle began to tear into the tiring Albion defence and it took just 3 minutes of extra-time for Reading to move into the inevitable lead; Oster, inevitably, fed Harper to meander into the box and as he was denied by a mass of Baggie bodies LITA lashed in his hatrick goal to complete a stunning turnaround. A mark of Reading's dominance was that Coppell saw fit to introduce young substitutes Cox and Osano as extra-time wore on. We never looked like relinquishing the lead and moved through to generous full time applause to a 4th round home tie against Birmingham City. Bring them on.

Reading: Stack, Murty, Makin, Ingimarsson, Gunnarsson, Oster (Osano, 107), Sidwell, Harper, Hunt, Lita (Cox, 101), Long (Doyle, 89). Subs not used: Hahnemann, Little.

Floy'd Favourite: Lita. Stunning hat-trick.


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