- Cox denied by the post early on
- Warnock sent off for second yellow
- HRK breaks the deadlock with left foot finish
- Bent deflects equaliser past Federici
- Yakubu fires the winner!
The romance of the FA Cup remains firmly in Reading after Yakubu came off the bench to fire a Valentine's Day winner against ten man Derby County at the iPro Stadium this afternoon.
A pulsating cup tie remained goalless at half-time although Simon Cox had struck the base of the post to come closest for the visitors and Steve McClaren's men had been reduced to ten men after Stephen Warnock had picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Jamie Mackie.
Hal Robson-Kanu then put Steve Clarke's side ahead with a sublime finish capping off a lovely move from the Royals. But soon after Derby were level when Jesse Lingard's drive deflected off Darren Bent and found a way past the wrongfooted Federici.
With less than 20 minutes remaining in the tie, Clarke introduced Yakubu and the Nigerian star struck the winner when Reading counter attacked through the heart of Derby's midfield - Robson-Kanu feeding it into the feet of the substitute and the Yak touching the ball onto his left boot and drilling past Kelle Roos for 2-1. And this time there was no way back for County.
Reading are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup!
Derby: Roos, Christie, Bryson, Keogh (c), Warnock, Shotton, Mascarell (Forsyth 44), Hendrick, Lingard, Dawkins (Ward 68), Bent.
Subs: Mitchell, Buxton, Thorne, Thomas, Hughes.
Yellow: Mascarell, Warnock, Bryson.
Reading: Federici, Kelly, Obita, Hector, Pearce (c), Chalobah (Akpan 79), Williams, Robson-Kanu, Mackie (Yakubu 72), Cox, Pogrebnyak (Blackman 72).
Subs: Andersen, Cooper, Norwood, Taylor.
Yellow: Williams, Obita, Kelly
Att: 21,337 (1,613 away)
In the opening minute, the high-flying Rams carved an early opportunity, some quick precise passing ending with a shot from Craig Bryson which Adam Federici did well to push behind for a corner. From the set piece the Royals failed to fully clear their lines and Simon Dawkins scuffed a shot at goal, but this time Federici was well behind it.
At the other end, Simon Cox cut inside from the byline and fired a left-footed effort at the Rams goal, but a Derby defender got his body in the way and the ball looped up and behind for a Reading corner.
Captain Richard Keogh almost got on the end of a cleverly placed free kick but the ball skimmed wide of the right post to the Royals' relief. But Reading then enjoyed a spell of pressure and won a free kick on the edge of the area, after half a penalty appeal from Hal Robson-Kanu was ignored by referee Craig Pawson.
From the free kick, Reading struck the post. Chalobah took a clever touch to fox the Rams, sliding the ball into the feet of an unmarked Cox, who rifled a right-footed shot under Kelle Roos and against the base of the right upright.
Jeff Hendrick arrowed an effort over after 25 minutes of a closely-fought first half, but Reading came closer moments later when Mackie scrapped his way into a good position inside the box and pulled it back to Robson-Kanu, whose shock was charged down. Pavel scuffed the follow-up volley goalwards and finally County cleared their lines.
Federici then did well to parry a swerving Lingard shot and second later produced a stunning reaction save to somehow keep out Darren Bent's shot from close range, getting down well to save before Kelyl to hack it clear of the six yard box.
At the other end, Cox again went close. Obita did well to chest the ball under control on the left and cross in to the head of Pogrebnyak and the ball dropped for Cox who volleyed, first time, just over the crossbar.
Then a twist. Stephen Warnock was late to a tackle on Jamie Mackie and he caught the Royals midfielder. Referee Craig Pawson produced a second yellow card after the full back had been booked earlier in the half and Derby were down to ten men.
On the break, Reading then came close. Jamie Mackie progressed down the right and drilled a low shot that Roos saved but could only push out to Williams. His volley headed goalwards but deflected off Keogh and dribbled inches wide. Reading appealed vociferously for a handball in the block, but the referee gave nothing.
The half ended with a Dawkins effort that deflected over the Royals crossbar, but the teams went in level at the break.
The first chance of the second half fell to Simon Cox, who again connected sweetly with a headed clearance only for his effort to deflect off Keogh and loop behind for a corner.
A good run from Lingard presented Hendrick with a shooting chance moments later but his effort was charged down too, as Derby fought for a goal they could then defend with ten men.
But Reading took the lead with a well worked and wonderfully finished goal. Kelly found Cox down the right and he pulled the ball back to Robson-Kanu just inside the Derby box. He controlled with his first touch and then coolly curled the ball past Roos with the second. The travelling Royals fans burst into song.
The visitors only held the lead for a short period though as Derby struck back through Bent. A low cross from Forsyth on the left found its way to the edge of the box and a low shot deflected past Federici off the Rams striker. 1-1.
Pogrebnyak forced Roos into a tidy save low to his right minutes later, turning on the edge of the box and shooted left-footed, but to no avail. Then Cox skidded a right-footed effort inches wide of the bottom left corner, but it just would not go in for him.
And it wouldn't go in for the Pog either. He headed well low from close ranger after a cross from the left, but Roos did brilliantly to keep the ball out with his feet. Mackie lined up the follow-up shot but it sizzled agonisingly wide of the right post.
Yakubu and Blackman were introduced but it was Federici's turn to make a superb save next, diving low to his left to keep out Ward's effort and Obita mopped up the loose ball.
Blackman almost latched onto a Robson-Kanu ball through the Derby back line, but as he went to ground appeals for a penalty were quicky waved away. Then substitute Jamie Ward curled a free kick wide for the home side.
But the Royals were back in the lead when they caught their opponents with a lovely counter attack at pace. And it was Yakubu
with his first goal for Reading. The ball was brought forward well and stabbed through to the Yak by Robson-Kanu in behind the Derby back line. He cut back onto his left foot and rifled the ball past Roos to make it 2-1. "Feed the Yak and he will score" rang out from the away end.
Derby frantically sought another equaliser and five minutes of injury time were signalled, giving the Rams fans hope. But the Royals held firm. Reading are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup!