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16:56 29th January 2011

Report: Royals see off Stevenage

Stevenage 1 (Charles 72)
Reading 2 (Leigertwood 23, Long 87)

A late goal from Shane Long saw Reading win a difficult FA Cup tie away to giant killers Stevenage at Broadhall Way.

A good goal from Mikele Leigertwood, his first for the club, gave us a half time lead, but Darius Charles scored impressively in the second half to level matters and put the tie back in the balance.

We responded very well and refused to waver, and Long pounced on Jobi McAnuff's excellent cross to send us through to the next round and we can be very pleased with our display.

Teams with less resolve and organisation would have crumbled against a Stevenage side who gave absolutely everything, and showed why they had only lost twice at home all season before this game.

Backed by an excellent away following, we turned in a thoroughly professional display and our excellent relationship with the FA Cup continues to blossom.

Stevenage (4-4-2): Day; Henry, Charles (Odubade 81), Ashton, Roberts (c); Bostwick, Bridges (Sinclair 52), Wilson, Laird; Beardsley, Winn (Long 82)
Subs: Bayes, Foster, Daley, Griffin
Booked: Laird (foul 12)

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Griffin, Harte, Ingimarsson, Mills (c); Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu (Antonio 73); Church, Long
Subs: McCarthy, Cummings, Armstrong, Khizanishvili, Tabb, Hunt

Ref: A Taylor

Attendance: 6,614 (1,392 away)

Starting XI team news
Brian McDermott made two changes, Ivar Ingimarsson and Hal Robson-Kanu coming in for the injured Alex Pearce and the ill Jimmy Kebe. Brian Howard was injured so was not included in the 18-man squad.

First half
The game started evenly and the home side had the first effort on goal, Michael Bostwick hitting a decent strike with ten minutes gone but not extending Adam Federici. Down the other end Andy Griffin did well to get inside the area but his cross for Matt Mills was overhit.

Ian Harte's cross then gave Shane Long a chance to head goalwards but he was crowded out and Simon Church was given offside as it dropped for him. Harte then had to defend well as Lawrie Wilson threatened from a cross.

With the first half at its midway point, Reading took the lead with a very nice goal. Jem Karacan won the ball in midfield well, and with the help of a good advantage, he released his partner Mikele Leigertwood. The on-loan QPR man advanced 20 yards in possession, got inside the box, cut onto his left foot and hit smacked home an excellent strike from 16 yards, rifling it past Chris Day.

The goal lifted us, and Hal Robson-Kanu then did very well down the left, finding Long but the striker's knock-down was hacked clear.

Long then went clear on goal and it looked for all the world like he was fouled by Laird, who had already been booked, but Reading were not even awarded a free kick and our bench looked most displeased to say the least.

Stevenage looked to respond, and Scott Laird went for glory at the near post instead of looking for a teammate in the middle. Down the other end, Long's header was miscued over.

Robson-Kanu then did well again down the left, but Ronnie Henry made a good challenge inside the box and won the ball despite our claims for a penalty.

Moments later Harte whipped in a superb free kick and it was no more than a foot wide of the post, while Ivar Ingimarsson was also inches away from touching it home.

Right on half time Long got onto the end of a sensational Jobi McAnuff pass, and Chris Day had to be out sharply to deny the striker inside the area.

Second half
Simon Church nearly gave Reading the perfect start to the second half as he hit a brilliant left footed effort from the edge of the box, and with the 'keeper beaten it went only a foot over the bar.

Reading were battling well, and Robson-Kanu forced Day into an important save after taking a touch on a deep cross and stabbing goalwards.

Midway through the half Stevenage found some momentum, and Chris Beardsley had a cracking chance but headed over from a very good position.

They then screamed for a penalty after sub Rob Sinclair went to ground, but referee Taylor was on hand to wave away their appeals as Ingimarsson went to ground.

Immediately Robson-Kanu went on a cracking run from deep inside his own half but a defender was on hand to clear the danger.

Stevenage then made their spell of pressure count, and Darius Charles scored a cracking goal to equalise. Picking the ball up out wide, he cut in from the right wing, darted between defenders and planted a perfect left-footed finish right into the corner.

Stevenage's tails were up, and we needed a cracking block from Ingimarsson to keep a shot away from goal, before Charles spurned a very good chance for his second.

Reading rode out the storm well, and got back in front with a 15th of the season from Long. McAnuff put in a great cross from the left, Long timed his run perfectly and sidefooted home from only a few yards out.

We could have expected a fightback from the home side, but in fact it was Reading who looked much more likely to score in the closing minutes as we saw the game out superbly.

McAnuff went on a superb run but fired over on his left foot when Church was screaming for a pass. Sub Michail Antonio then burst forward very well and Karacan shot over from his pass.

Day then had to pull off a great save to deny Antonio, and we saw four minutes of injury time out in fine style to record a hard-fought win and a place in round five.

The home side had only lost twice at home this season, and they were rightly given a lap of honour at full time for their cup exploits.

But most importantly it was Reading who celebrated the win with their supporters and go into the fifth round in fine fettle.

    Data provided by Press Association