“I like to get as many games as possible- we’ll feel the hurt of the game against MK Dons and we’ll get ourselves back to Reading, and we’ll prepare ourselves for the game on Tuesday night.”
– Reading Manager Brian McDermott
With fixtures continuing to come through thick and fast, Reading FC will only have a couple of days to get over their last 1-0 defeat to MK Dons before taking on Huddersfield once again in their FA Cup replay. On Tuesday evening, Reading Manager Brian McDermott will be looking forward to returning to the Madejski after three away trips on the bounce with the ultimate aim being to book a place in the next round- Walsall await the winner in the fourth round.
The Royals will have been disappointed with the first result at Huddersfield having conceded a last minute penalty, ultimately dispensed by Nahki Wells- who else. Goals from Matej Vydra and Hal Robson-Kanu saw Reading approach the final whistle with a 2-1 lead but the Royals could not hold on until the end. It was a game of questionable decisions from the referee, particularly when it came to penalties, so all parties will be hoping for better officiates the second time around.
Since the departure of Nick Blackman, many have questioned the striking prowess of Reading’s attackers. Matej Vydra, Hal Robson-Kanu and Danny Williams have all shown that they are capable of filling the gap but if the last performance against MK Dons is anything to go by, no one can be considered prolific or consistent enough at this stage to be the main man up front. The problem is that this stage is half-way through the season and if the club are seriously considering themselves as promotion candidates, it is something they need to remedy quickly. The return of Simon Cox from his loan spell at Bristol City has given McDermott more options offensively but having only made a handful of ineffective performances this season, he will surely need time to ease himself back into the group.
In terms of the starting line-ups, Reading will be without Aaron Tshibola, Paul McShane, Michael Hector and Jordan Obita while Huddersfield will not be able to call upon goalkeeper Jed Steer. Midfielder Dean Whitehead may, however, make his first appearance since December following his absence through injury.
Having made it as far as the Semi-Final last season, for only the second time in their history, Reading will be optimistic of progressing in the competition once again this year. The Royals have a far superior squad than their opposition so the only thing preventing them from achieving their full potential is confidence. With Blackman out the picture, the pressure is now being put on the rest of the squad to come up with the goals and at times it is showing. There will be no better time to get back into a spell of good form than against Huddersfield- especially with the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich, Wolves, Burnley and Middlesbrough all coming up in the Championship over the next few weeks.
While Reading lost their last game to MK Dons, it wasn’t through lack of trying. The players are creating opportunities for themselves and as soon as the shots start hitting the back of the net, the positive results will obviously come. Corners are something, however, that are still a concern and continue to have a major impact on results. If Reading can make the most of their opportunities then they should have no problem advancing through the cup.