Reading: Federici; Cummings (Long), Cooper, Pearce, Gunter; Akpan, Kuhl, Tanner (Edwards), Blackman, Cox, Mackie (Taylor)
215 fans travelled the 450 mile round trip last night to see the Royals clinch a win at Scunthorpe. In the words of Jem Karacan "Some people I think under estimate how tough a place it is to go" and that showed predominantly through the first-half with Reading forced to defend a barrage of free-kicks in the final third.
With twelve players unavailable for us in this round, the young squad that Adkins was forced in part to name coped well at the back, whereas those in midfield hardly created any chances. More chances were created in the second half after a change of pace throughout. A late strike from Jake Taylor resulted in a one nil win over Scunthorpe.
The Royals first half started shakily, as within a minute Cummings was sent tumbling to the ground after a heavy tackle from Gary McSheffrey on the left touchline. It earned McSheffrey a yellow card whilst Cummings slowly got up a few minutes later. From the start Scunthorpe had the majority of possession which lead to Federici making some great saves. Scunthorpe's Paddy Madden was a menace to the Readings defence from the onset and really tested full debutant Jake Cooper but Cooper was up for the task. Under Alex Pearce's guidance Cooper flourished during the game and greeted Madden's quest for goal with some quick thinking by booting the ball out of the ground.
In the 27th minute of the match Scunthorpe had a great opportunity in the box only for Cooper to jump and head it away. Shortly after another shot from the Iron looked to be going in but Federici was able to make a fantastic save to send the ball wide.
The Royals only had one notable opportunity in the box during the first half as Cox pounced on a loose ball in the area but unfortunately the chance came to nothing. Blackman also had a couple of chances in the first half, the first a twenty five yard strike which whittled past the post. His second should have been a shot on target until he sent it into the stands.
Scunthorpe had several openings themselves, mostly through set pieces but ultimately a scrappy first half drew to a close goalless.
Both managers must have had strong words at the break because in the second period the game changed to a much more attacking style. The ineffective Cummings was taken off to make Sean Long the latest in a string of Academy products to make his Reading debut this season. The Republic of Ireland U19 didn't himself set the match alight but had a solid start to his professional career and didn't put a foot wrong during the game.
Two minutes into the second half Cox had a shot at goal which was easy for Scunthorpe's keeper. On a night where Reading had four shots on target, three were easy enough for Olejnik to save as they headed straight into the keepers arms.
Blackman's chances in the second half were sloppy because of his need to create entertaining football. He often had one touch to many on the ball which always ended back in the possession of Scunthorpe.
A surge of energy came when Edwards was brought on for a tiring Tanner. His ability on the ball changed the pace of the game and caused problems for their midfield and defence. Jake Taylor was the final sub of the night, who replaced Mackie who still didn't seem fully fit.
The game became sloppy and scrappy again as both teams looked for a goal to seal the game. Although Reading dominated the possession in the second half, Scunthorpe were unlucky with misses and misfortunes that ultimately ended in Jake Taylor finding the back of the net from close range from a corner with five minutes left in the game. Despite late pressure, the Royals held on to book themselves a place in the third round.
This wasn't a fantastic performance but given the fact we have a 12-deep injury list, a win is a win and we move on to Middlesbrough on Saturday.