Royals come from behind to punish PompeyThe Royals came from behind to break the resistance of an impressive Portsmouth side at Fratton Park this evening, sealing their place in the Third Round of the Capital One Cup thanks to second half goals from Nick Blackman and Garath McCleary.
Conor Chaplin had handed the hosts a half-time lead when he rifled home from a narrow angle after pouncing on some miscommunication at the back, but Nick Blackman drilled the visitors level just after the hour and a late winner from Garath McCleary stole the victory for Steve Clarke's side.
The Royals made four changes to the side that drew with MK Dons at the weekend, Ali Al Habsi coming in between the posts while Simon Cox got his first start of the season up front. Michael Hector had the captain's armband in place of McShane, while Nick Blackman replaced Aaron Tshibola in midfield.
And although the visitors began brightly, the first chance in front of goal fell to the hosts - a searching cross from the right was almost met by the stooping head of Jayden Stockley eight yards out, but he could only get a glancing touch and the ball sailed behind for a goal kick.
Adam McGurk then found the space to send in a testing low cross which Al Habsi confidently smothered, while Cox at the other end took aim from 25 yards out but shot high over the bar.
Cox came closer soon after when Norwood's free kick fell to his feet, but his stabbed effort was deflected wide. And from the recycled resultant corner, Blackman bravely went in for a header with goalkeeper Paul Jones but was unable to get a touch to it at the far post to convert.
Conor Chaplin tested Al Habsi's handling, the Omani international down well to his left to save from the Pompey midfielder as we neared the half an hour mark in a lively encounter played in front of a vocal set of home and away supporters.
Stockley should have broken the deadlock soon after, sliding in to connect with a wonderful cross from the impressive Kyle Bennett but somehow slicing the ball wide of the target from the edge of the six yard box. And in an end to end spell in the first half, Hal Robson-Kanu muscled his way in behind the Portsmouth back line only to be denied by Jones in a one-on-one situation.
Gunter dinked a good cross into the area from the right which Jones could only tip clear of his six yard box, but Cox was unable to hook the ball back on target instead watching it sail over into the travelling fans.
And Portsmouth took the lead on the stroke of half-time. Conor Chaplin closed down a long ball forwards and a miscommunication between Al Habsi and his defence saw the keeper mis-kick his hurried clearance. Chaplin pounced on the loose ball, got a yard on Al Habsi trying to narrow his shooting options, and rifled home from a narrow angle.
Half-time:Portsmouth 1 Reading 0
Chaplin caught the first fleeting glimpse of goal after the break, getting in behind the Royals' back line and on the end of a well-weighted pass, but under pressure he stabbed harmlessly wide.
On the hour, a good overlapping run from Gunter saw the right-back square it for Williams who took aim from distance, but Jones was unmoved as it flew over the Pompey bar.
Portsmouth were defending their lead well until Nick Blackman drew the tie level with a wonderful 63rd minute finish. With the chance to run at the home defence, he cut in from the right side and squeezed a powerful low left-footed effort between keeper and near post to see the ball nestle in the bottom right corner.
With new life breathed into their play by the equaliser, the Royals began to press for the lead and manager Steve Clarke introduced Garath McCleary from the bench, returning from his injury suffered on international duty with Jamaica to make his first appearance of the season.
Bennett tested Al Habsi with a low effort from range, the Royals stopper gathering it into his body without any fuss. But the Royals were looking the more likely to get a winner and so it proved.
With only five minutes of normal time remaining, Hal Robson-Kanu did brilliantly to win the ball on the left and toe inside for Quinn. He dragged the ball across the six yard box where McCleary was lurking at the far post, and as the ball ricocheted his way he made no mistake, stabbing the ball into the same corner that Blackman had equalised in.
Quinn saw a late shot blocked after more good work from McCleary out on the right. Then at the other end, Al Habsi had to be alert at his near post to snaffle a low cross before Stockley could pounce.
The Royals saw out four minutes of injury time despite goalkeeper Jones coming up to attack a last minute corner to no avail. The Royals had come from behind to seal their place in the next round.
Full-time: Portsmouth 1 Reading 2
Portsmouth: Jones, Evans, Webster, Clarke, Haunstrup, Close, Hollands (c), McGurk (Dunne 79), Chaplin (Tollitt 83), Bennett (Tubbs 89), Stockley.
Unused subs: Murphy, Burgess, Atangana, Roberts.
Reading: Al Habsi, Gunter, Obita, Hector (c), Ferdinand, Norwood, Williams (Tshibola 90), Quinn, Blackman (McShane 89), Robson-Kanu, Cox (McCleary 69).
Unused subs: Moore, Fernandez, Stacey, Sa.
Yellow: Robson-Kanu, Williams
Attendance: 18,190 (2,082 away)
Referee: Gavin Ward