Eagles snatch win from valiant RoyalsA Yohan Cabaye penalty five minutes from the end of an entertaining FA Cup quarter-final ended Reading's run in the competition this season, as Crystal Palace ran out 2-0 winners at Madejski Stadium.
Ali Al Habsi had to deny Yohan Cabaye and Emmanuel Adebayor in an entertaining but goalless opening forty-five that also saw Ola John nearly capitalise on a Hennessey-spilled cross but find the side netting from the tightest of angles instead.
And in the second half our Omani stopper was thwarting Palace once more - brilliantly clawing Mile Jedinak's header off his line before pushing another arced Cabaye free kick wide. But Hennessey made a fine save of his own to deny Ola John's free far post header and the game remained level until five minutes from the end when Cabaye's penalty wormed its way home. Campbell added a second in injury time against a valiant ten man Reading side, who had thrown everything at their opponents but couldn't find their way to Wembley on this occasion.
Brian McDermott named Matej Vydra on the bench after he returned to a sufficient fitness level to join the squad as a substitute, so Simon Cox began the game as the lead striker - one of five Academy products named in the Royals' starting line-up.
The teams sounded each other out in the opening 10 minutes, Chris Gunter had to steer a Bolasie cross behind for a corner and then a bit of head tennis inside the Royals box ended in a goal kick fro Ali Al Habsi. Ola John, meanwhile, weaved his way inside and out down the left only for his cross to be cut out.
A brilliant header from Gunter denied both Adebayor and Ledley a headed opportunity at the far post after more good work from Zaha down the right, then the former Manchester United winger flashed another dangerous cross across the face of goal, thankfully no-one getting a touch in the middle.
Palace's pace was causing McDermott's men problems and midway through the half a counter attack ended at the feet of Zaha who pulled the trigger only for his shot to be blocked by Obita before Al Habsi was troubled.
From that Palace corner, Reading broke themselves and Robson-Kanu won a corner with a burst down the right. The set piece was swung into the Eagles box and both Hector and Cooper rose, but the ball was gathered in by Wayne Hennessey with relative comfort.
Al Habsi had to make an acrobatic save to push a Yohan Cabaye free kick wide of his top left corner, and from the subsequent corner Bolasie was allowed to turn on a loose ball but arrow high into the side netting.
A brilliant sliding tackle from Cooper took the ball off the toe of Ledley inside the Royals box and Bolasie rippled the side netting once more with a low snapshot seconds later, as Alan Pardew's men looked to make their dominance count with an opening goal.
And Al Habsi was in action again to deny Adebayor this time after he had evaded the last ditch tackle of McShane to get a good low shot away from only 10 yards out - our Omani was down well to save from the Palace frontman.
With seven minutes of the half remaining, Gunter crossed from the right and it dropped to the feet of John. He found a yard to stab an effort at goal, but it took a deflection into the side netting and went behind for a corner. From that uncleared corner, Hector swung a leg at a loose ball but it was charged down before testing Hennessey.
And three minutes later, we came close to an opener when Hennessey spilled a deep Robson-Kanu cross and John tried to turn it into the empty net from what proved to be an impossible angle.
However arguably the best chance of the half was squandered by Palace on the stroke of half-time when Bolasie's low drive was pushed into the path of Ledley who could only direct a bouncing ball over the crossbar.
Half-time: Reading 0 Crystal Palace 0
Two thundering Cooper headers cleared the Reading box of early danger at the start of the second period, but it took a quite incredible one-handed save from Al Habsi to somehow deny Mile Jedinak the opening goal - the midfielder connected with Cabaye's outswinging free kick to direct a powerful header towards the top right corner, but Al Habsi clawed it off his line and behind.
From the resultant corner, Norwood cleared a Dann header from inside the six yard box as Palace began the second half strongly. But just before the hour Robson-Kanu was scythed down by Damien Delaney to win a free kick at the other end, but Norwood's effort was blocked by the Eagles wall.
Palace broke from a Norwood free kick and Adebayor arrowed over the bar after some superb defending had held the Eagles attack up - then a brave bit of defending from Gunter saw the right-back charge down a rifled Jedinak effort.
The tie was hotting up to say the least and Vydra brought down Norwood's crossfield ball inside the area to tee up Quinn whose deflected shot had to be saved low to Hennesey's left as it crept towards the far corner.
Cooper was booked for bringing down Zaha in a dangerous area but Al Habsi was leaping to his left once more to deny Cabaye's arcing set piece. Then good work from Vydra presented John with a shooting opportunity from distance - but unlike in midweek this time the winger's drive sailed harmlessly wide.
John came so close to breaking the deadlock with 15 minutes remaining though, arriving at the far post to power a downward header towards goal only for Hennessey to save brilliantly and keep the game goalless.
Quinn blocked a Sako free kick but the pressure was building and the visitors had the lead with just five minutes left. The ball was launched forward into the Royals box and Cooper was adjudged to have tugged back Bolasie as he tried to get on the end of it. Referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot, sent Cooper off for a second bookable offence and Yohan Cabaye converted from the spot, despite the excellent Al Habsi getting a hand to it.
Bolasie almost made it 2-0 immediately after the restart, curling a shot against the crossbar, but the ten men of Reading threw everything at their opponents in the final stages - to no avail this time.
Late substitute Fraizer Campbell tapped home after a nice passing move had carved the Royals defence open in injury time, the striker denied by Al Habsi inisitally but following up the rebound to smash the Eagles into the last four. The cup adventure was over for another year, but we had made some more memories along the way.
Full-time: Reading 0 Crystal Palace 2
Reading: Al Habsi, Gunter, Obita (Rakels 89), McShane, Cooper, Hector, Norwood (Williams 75), Quinn, John, Robson-Kanu, Cox (Vydra 60).
Subs: Bond, Ferdinand, Piazon, McCleary.
Yellow: Hector, Gunter, Cooper.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare, Jedinak (c), Ledley (Sako 79), Cabaye, Bolasie (Campbell 89), Zaha, Adebayor.
Subs: McCarthy, Kelly, Mutch, Puncheon, Gayle.
Yellow: Zaha, Bolasie, Jedinak.
Referee: Mr M Dean
Att: 23,110 (3,726 away)