“We are under no illusions at all that to get through this game we are going to have to play probably better than we have at any point this season so far.” Ex-Royal and Bradford Manager Phil Parkinson
After much pre-match build up and anticipation, tomorrow we will finally know whether Reading FC have equalled their best FA Cup run of 1927 run by making it through to the Semi-Finals. The Royals just have the small issue of beating the ‘giant killers’ Bradford City who will not go down without a fight. Having already beaten Premier League sides Chelsea and Sunderland, the League 1 side actually find themselves as favourites to make history and get through to the FA Cup Semi-Finals for the first time in 104 years.
“What Bradford have achieved in the competition so far is fantastic, but it’s up to us to go up there and be the spoilers of the party.”– Reading Manager Steve Clarke
Reading have seemingly snuck under the radar to make it this far in the competition, beating the likes of Huddersfield, Cardiff and Derby all away from home. The Bantams, in comparison, have seen off Premier League sides and consequently the underdogs of the competition have quite the following in the media. Reading have failed to win in their last three matches and this is something that the media have latched onto, suggesting that Reading players will be low on confidence coming into the game. On the back of a late draw against Bolton in the Championship, courtesy of a Mackie goal, Reading spirits will be higher than expected. Bradford come into the game on the back of a 1-0 home victory against relegation-threatened Crawley Town so confidence will be high, especially considering their current FA Cup run.
A recent concern with Reading is their goal scoring form. In the FA Cup such worries, however, are not apparent. Having scored five goals in three games away from home, Reading must be optimistic going into an away match against weaker opposition. With key players like Danny Williams being left out the starting lineup against Bolton in the last game, the Royals are in a good position to progress in the competition. The only slight worry is the knock that Simon Cox took against Bolton, but he should be alright to feature against Bradford.
What can be guaranteed is that both sides are in for one hell of a game. While it will probably not be of the same ilk as Manchester United v Arsenal, it will be a hard fought game with a Semi-Final spot on the line. Despite having players like Jon Stead amongst their ranks, Reading should have the quality to see them through. As Chelsea will know, however, quality is not everything when it comes to the FA Cup.