” This is a really good test for us and we’re just trying to get through. It’s a game I’m really looking forward to.”– Reading Manager Brian McDermott
“They [the Walsall players] enjoyed the Brentford test in the last round and this is another opportunity to play against a team from a division they aspire to playing in.”– Walsall Manager Sean O’Driscoll
Reading fans will be hoping that Saturday’s fourth round FA Cup fixture will be smooth sailing in comparison to the dramatic events of the last round. A late Nahki Wells penalty saw Reading’s third round tie go to a replay at the Madejski Stadium, where a Matej Vydra hat-trick helped see the home side through with a 5-2 victory.
The Royals now take on League One side Walsall in the fourth round of the competition and will be optimistic of progressing. As we all know, however, anything can happen in the cup and the Saddlers have already proven that they can stand up to tough opposition- beating Nottingham Forest, Brighton and Brentford in cup competitions already this season. The League One side have failed to reach the FA Cup Fifth Round since the 2002/03 season, while Reading made it as far as the Semi-Finals last year.
In terms of the team news, midfielder and long-term absentee Isaiah Osbourne is Walsall’s only injury concern going into Saturday’s game. New signing Bryn Morris is cup-tied while Tom Bradshaw is likely to line up against the club who have been rumoured to be showing some interest during the transfer window. Reading, meanwhile, will be boosted by the return of Captain Paul McShane, fellow centre-back Michael Hector, Aaron Tshibola and Stephen Quinn. Garath McCleary is the only player that misses out through injury, while Yann Kermorgant and George Evans are both cup-tied.
The last time the two sides met in the FA Cup was in 2003 when Walsall beat Reading in a third-round replay at the Madejski 4-1 on penalties. In more recent times, however, the Royals have progressed from seven of their last eight FA Cup ties against lower-league opposition and will confident of doing the same on Saturday.
With Reading gradually falling down the Championship table following a period of much promise, the Royals will be looking to build another cup run in order to generate some excitement. McDermott will probably use this opportunity to rotate a few members of the squad but will no doubt still name a strong starting XI with his aim being to progress in the competition at the first time of asking. Walsall are clearly capable of causing an upset but Reading have a calibre of player that should be able to win this tie with ease.
Famous last words…