A look back at our journey to the EmiratesOn Tuesday we travel to North London to take on Arsenal in the fourth round of the EFL Cup – a win would take us to the quarter-final for the first time in our Madejski Stadium era.
We’ve beaten a team from each of the three EFL divisions en route to the Emirates – and below we recap the three wins that booked us a date with the Premier League giants…
Reading 2-0 Plymouth Argyle (Tuesday 9th August)
First round – Madejski Stadium
Just our second home match of the season, and the Royals went double Dutch as summer signings Joey van den Berg and Roy Beerens sealed passage to the next stage with goals in the first half.
Parity lasted just quarter of an hour – and then a left-flank free-kick from John Swift was perfectly on point for Van den Berg to glance in the opener. Chris Gunter, who had netted in the first round of the competition last season, almost grabbed another – but Vincent Dorel could only palm his effort away, allowing Beerens to pick up the pieces and drill in a second.
The Pilgrims offered little in the way of resistance – Sonny Bradley was closest to salvaging a consolatory goal in second-half stoppage time for the League 2 side, but he miscued his effort wide.
Reading 2-2 MK Dons; 4-2 on penalties (Tuesday 23rd August)
Second round – Madejski Stadium
Our meeting with League 1 outfit MK Dons was certainly a rollercoaster; the Royals needed to win it with spot-kicks, after the teams found themselves level after two hours of football.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play when Kabongo Tshimanga sprung the defence and drew a foul in the box from goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola – Dean Bowditch converted for a half-time lead. A thunderbolt from Callum Harriott after the break took it to extra time, before a terrific solo run and shot from the former Charlton winger had Reading ahead… only for Tshimanga to find the net with practically the last kick of the match.
That meant penalties; Harriott had the chance to win it after Ben Reeves and Samir Carruthers had been denied, but Lee Nicholls stood tall to his strike. That mattered little as Jordan Obita smashed in the next one to win it.
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-2 Reading (Tuesday 20th September)
Third round – Amex Stadium
The Royals went to the Amex after having drawn 2-2 with the Seagulls precisely a month earlier in the Championship. But the hosts weren’t able to get anything from this affair against an impressive showing from the Royals on the road, even with a numerical advantage for most of the game.
Stephen Quinn’s close-range volley gave us the lead shortly after the half-hour mark… but Tyler Blackett was sent for an early bath for his challenge on Brighton man Sebastien Pocognoli. Nevertheless, it was Reading who grabbed the game’s next goal after the break… a firecracker from John Swift to round off a terrific break.
Israeli international Tomer Hemed made things interesting with six minutes remaining by lashing in from close range – his goal proved mere consolation though, as late pressure from the hosts amounted to nothing.