Reading FC Match Preview - April 25 - Sheffield Utd (H)
Where are Sheffield United in the Championship? 24th
Recent form? Pretty terrible to be honest, The Blades have won just three games in 2011, although they did win on Friday, beating Bristol City 3-2
Last time we played them? We drew 1-1 at Bramall Lane in February. Shane Long put us ahead with nine minutes to go, only for Daniel Bogdanovic to net an 88th minute penalty.
Any former Royals? Darius Henderson came through the Reading Academy and could start up front for the Blades.
Any other business? Tomorrow's game will be dedicated to Chris Armstrong, the former Reading and Sheffield United defender who had to retire due to MS last month. Armstrong will lead both teams out before an on pitch presentation. To read more on Chris, please take a look at our piece from yesterday.
Tilehurst End Thoughts In Brief
Tomorrow's game promises to be an emotional affair for players and fans from both teams, firstly because Chris Armstrong will lead both teams out before the kick-off but also because Sheffield United could well be relegated today if they lose and results elsewhere go against them. It's hard to think of the Blades as relegation strugglers considering they went up with us in 2005/06 and were play-off finalists just two years ago. It's a sign of how quickly you can fall in football and a reminder of how well the board and management have done here to keep us so steady.
Reading meanwhile will be looking for all three points to keep alive our chances of automatic promotion. With three games to go we need Norwich to slip up twice and Cardiff once, but as Birmingham showed two years ago, anything can happen at the end of the season and it would be nice to at least go into the final day of the season with a chance of automatic promotion.
On paper this should be an easy three points, with United looking fairly hopeless through much of the season and Reading on an amazing run of 8 wins in 9. That being said United battled hard to a 3-2 win over Bristol City last time out while Reading looked a bit tired in the 0-0 draw at Leeds, perhaps suggesting the momentum might be more balanced than it would first appear.
Historically held a bit of a hoodoo on the Blades, with Reading winning 10 out of twelve games between 2003-2008, including some memorable wins at Bramall Lane. But a current Royal helped turn that streak around, with Brian Howard scoring the only goal in a late season promotion showdown in 2009, before United won 3-1 here at the start of last season and demolished us 3-0 at Bramall Lane in the return fixture. Earlier this year we looked to have snatched all three points after a late Shane Long goal, only for Andy Griffin to give away a needless penalty that let Daniel 'always scores against Reading' Bogdanovic to net and ensure a share of the points.
Team wise Jimmy Kebe could return after missing the Leeds game with a thigh injury, while Mathieu Manset will be hoping to replace Noel Hunt up front. Otherwise it's hard to see Brian McDermott making any other changes though it's possible Jay Tabb could give Karacan a rest.
Prediction wise, my doom and gloom predictions didn't yield a win on Friday so I'm going on the positive again and saying a 4-1 Reading win, with Longy scoring the opener.