It took a collector’s item of a goal from Chris Gunter in extra-time to separate Reading and Colchester in the Capital One Cup, as the Royals eventually triumphed 1-0.
After a largely dominant performance over the 90 minutes from the Royals which didn’t yield any goals, Gunter’s cool finish in the second half of extra time won it for the Reading with only four minutes left on the clock.
The big news on the team sheet for the Royals were the full debuts for ‘keeper Ali Al-Habsi and left-back Andrew Taylor. Anton Ferdinand and Hal Robson-Kanu also came into the side, and both made their first starts of the season with Michael Hector and Aaron Tshibola making way as they took places on the bench.
The Royals dominated early possession and after just three minutes created the first chance of the game. Good work on the edge of the Colchester box saw Hal Robson-Kanu play in Nick Blackman, but his low effort was well saved by Sam Walker in the U’s goal.
Reading continued to control the game with Colchester only enjoying small spells of possession. Midway through the first period Blackman had the Royals’ second opportunity again linking up well with Robson-Kanu. The Welsh international supplied a whipped cross but Blackman flashed his volley over the bar from a tight angle.
Danny Williams was the next to draw a save from the Colchester stopper. He latched onto Blackman’s layoff and curled the ball goalwards with the outside of his right boot, but was denied by Walker’s smart save, diving to the right hand side.
The closest Colchester came in the opening half was two minutes from the break when Richard Brindley picked the ball up in a central position but had his 30-yard drive well saved by Al-Habsi in the Royals goal.
Half-time: Colchester United 0 Reading 0
The second half started in much the same vein with Reading controlling possession. Before long the Royals were knocking on the door with Robson-Kanu again the architect. His powerful run and cross picked out Orlando Sa at the near post, and the Portuguese striker turned and found space and laying the ball to Stephen Quinn who forced a double save out of Walker with two efforts from the edge of the box.
As the second half wore on, Colchester started to work their way back into the game. United full-back Brindley won a free kick after some good footwork on the edge of the Reading area, and Alex Gilbey’s resulting delivery deflected out to Massey whose strike flew inches over the Reading crossbar.
The last 20 minutes was closely fought midfield contest with neither side able to carve out many clear cut chances – Williams came the closest for the Royals with a shot from range bouncing just wide of Colchester’s goal
End of 90 minutes: Colchester United 0 Reading 0
Five minutes into extra-time and it was bad news for the Royals as second half substitute Dominic Samuel was stretchered off after sustaining an injury, and was replaced by Aaron Tshibola.
Reading upped the tempo midway and Blackman coming within millimetres of finding a winner. The forward saw his shot clatter off the underside of the bar onto the line, much like Tshibola’s effort against Birmingham in the previous match. Eventually the U’s scrambled clear and from the resulting corner Cox’s near-post header flashed just over the crossbar with substitute keeper Elliot Parish beaten in the Colchester goal.
Half-time in extra-time: Colchester United 0 Reading 0
The start of the second period saw Colchester in the ascendancy. Al-Habsi was called into action when he was forced to tip Gilbey’s 30 yard free-kick over the bar with the chance coming after a rare sustained period of United pressure.
Just as though it looked like it was heading to penalties, Reading struck the winner. A lightening counter attack by the Royals on the 116 minute saw the impressive Oliver Norwood collect the ball centrally and play a gem of a pass to Gunter, putting him through on the right-hand side. One on one with Parish, the Welshman made no mistake finishing with precision off the inside of the post.
Full-time: Colchester United 0 Reading 1
Walker (Parish 60), Brindley, Wynter, Eastman, Briggs; Moncur (Szmodics 74), Gilbey, Edwards; Sembie-Ferris, Bonne, Massey (Wright 70)
Unused subs: Kent, Vincent-Young, Ambrose, Holman.
Al-Habsi, Gunter, Taylor, McShane, Ferdinand, Williams, Quinn, Norwood, Blackman, Robson-Kanu (Samuel 82 (Tshibola 95)), Sa (Cox 82).
Unused subs: Bond, Hector, Obita, Stacey.
Attendance: 2,706 (595).
Referee: Darren Drysdale