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22:24 11th August 2010

Report: Royals grab dramatic win

Torquay United 0
Reading 1 (Rasiak 120)

A dramatic 120th minute strike from Grzegorz Rasiak sealed the Royals' place in the second round of the Carling Cup on Wednesday evening.

A resilient Torquay United outfit proved stubborn opposition for Brian McDermott's men, who dominated much of the possession but found goalscoring opportunities limited in normal time.

Most were preparing themselves for penalties as the clock ticked over into added time in extra time, but the Polish targetman saved the day by bundling home to send an impressive travelling support into raptures.

Torquay United: Bevan, Nicholson, Ellis, Robertson, Mansell, Benyon, Wroe (c), Stevens (Lathrope 111), Branston, Zebroski, Kee (O'Kane 97)
Subs: Rowe-Turner, Macklin, Halpin, Potter, Charnock, Lathrope, O'Kane
Booked: Zebroski, Benyon

Reading: Hamer; Griffin (c), Williams, Gunnarsson, Pearce; Howard, Tabb, Kebe, Antonio (Obita 112); Bignall (Karacan 90), Rasiak
Subs: McCarthy, Cummings, Davies, D'Ath, Bell-Baggie
Booked: Gunnarsson

Attendance: 2,832 (716 away)

First half
The sun was beating down making for a thoroughly pleasant evening at Plainmoor, as the Royals met the Gulls for the first time in 18 years.

The first chance of the game fell to the home side, as lively winger Chris Zebroski pounced on a fortunate deflection ten yards from goal - though could only blaze his effort way over Ben Hamer's crossbar.

Moments later Grzegorz Rasiak was able to divert a half chance towards goal, though under plenty of pressure from the Gulls' backline could barely test Scott Bevan.

At the other end Hamer was called into more pressing action as Elliot Benyon clipped Nicky Wroe's centre towards goal, forcing the young Royals stopper to dive low and athletically tip around the post.

A good travelling support were cheering on the men in blue and white and made plenty of effort to suck a Brian Howard free-kick into the net after 14 minutes as the midfielder whipped an effort in from 25 yards - but saw the set piece drift just past the post.

Michail Antonio and Nicholas Bignall were both looking to make the most of their first team starts and came close to opening the scoring ten minutes later, as a trailblazing run by Antonio sent the ball into the path of the young striker - who just failed to poke home from close range.

Everyone was having a go at goal and Brynjar Gunnarsson even tried to make up for a goalless 2009/10 campaign by rifling in an effort from the edge of the box - though it flew inches past the United post.

As the game livened up Ben Hamer was consistently impressing for the Royals, palming away a stinging Billy Kee strike on the half hour mark.

Ten minutes before the break Jay Tabb made a valiant attempt to open his Reading account, though saw a well placed volley diverted just wide after some admirable defending from the League Two side.

An extraordinary goalmouth scramble had hearts in mouths shortly before the break as a series of United bodies desperately tried to divert home after a corner wasn't quite dealt with by the visitors - though Andy Griffin's brave block on the goal line saved the day before Hamer eventually brought the ball into the safety of his chest.

Torquay had their tails up in the closing stages of the half and Kee again came close to granting a lead to the yellows, though poked just off target after 40 minutes.

Second half
It was Reading who looked sharpest after the interval, as some foraging work by Rasiak down the left wing resulted in a dangerous ball into the box, which forced Guy Branston to head the ball narrowly past his own post.

The absence of Gylfi Sigurdsson, busy scoring on international duty for Iceland, allowed Brian Howard to take up set-piece duties - and the former Southampton man forced a smart save from Bevan five minutes into the half with a swirling free kick.

Andy Griffin was the next to cause problems for the Gulls' number one, slamming in a fizzing effort from all of thirty yards that Bevan could once more only punch away from danger.

Brian McDermott's men were starting to assert their authority on the game as the match wore on, and Rasiak drilled just wide after 71 minutes.

Jimmy Kebe was tightly marshalled on the right wing but still found room to skip inside the United area ten minutes later, squaring for the onrushing Antonio who could only squeeze a shot wide.

Kee attempted an instant riposte with an ambitious dipping half volley from 25 yards, though Hamer was not troubled as the ball dropped over his crossbar.

Another Howard free-kick again won a corner in the dying stages of normal time as Bevan tipped over the crossbar, though it became increasingly apparent that fitness levels would be tested with a spell of extra time.

Extra time
Though the Royals again made most of the in-roads in extra time they still had Hamer to thank for keeping his concentration, as the towering net minder rushed out of his goal to bravely dive at the feet of Danny Stevens as the diminutive midfielder broke away on the counter attack.

A swift passing move by the Royals allowed Howard to latch onto a neat Kebe flicked early in the second period, though the midfielder's daisy cutter wasn't kept on target.

There was another heart stopping moment for the visitors to endure as Elliot Benyon broke the offside trap to dash through on goal, before cutting inside and looping a beautiful effort past Hamer and onto the inside of the post. The bounce favoured Reading as it flew off the woodwork and away from goal, though it was a warning of the obvious danger Torquay posed on the counter attack.

There was a landmark appearance for 16-year-old Jordan Obita as the first year youth team scholar replaced Michail Antonio with ten minutes remaining, becoming one of the youngest players in the club's history.

Everyone was beginning the mental preparation for penalties as the fourth official lifted the board to signal two minutes of added time - but the drama wasn't yet over.

The Gulls desperately tried to clear their lines as Howard swung in one last free-kick, but in the middle of another almighty goalmouth scramble the Royal hero was to be Rasiak - who bundled home from close range to win the tie.

Those hardy travelling Reading fans had every right to celebrate the winner, and after holding out for the last few seconds, our players rightly went over to the fans at full time to thank them for playing their part in a battling victory - and now Northampton await at home in the next round.

    Data provided by Press Association