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Reading 3-0 Bradford City: Que Sera Sera...

The Royals earned a draw at Valley Parade to bring Bradford City to a sellout Madejski Stadium on Monday night - and Reading finished the job with consummate professionalism to secure a first FA Cup Semi Final berth since 1927.

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Reading: Federici; Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Obita; McCleary (Norwood), Chalobah, Williams, Robson-Kanu (Blackman); Mackie, Pogrebnyak (Yakubu)

Eleven changes from the makeshift side which folded easily at Watford on Saturday, although in the grand scheme of things this was clearly the more important game. In terms of the lineup at Valley Parade nine days ago, Steve Clarke made just two swaps, with Chris Gunter in at right-back for the injured Stephen Kelly, and Garath McCleary replacing Oliver Norwood as Reading lined up in a 4-4-2 with Jamie Mackie and Pavel Pogrebnyak up top.

With the sellout crowd and the sea of scarves creating an atmosphere unseen at the Madejski Stadium in a long time, including Bradford filling the entire south stand, the nerves were jangling as both sets of fans furiously willed their team towards Wembley Way. But any worry amongst the fervent home support was quickly ended within ten minutes, as a quickfire double put the Royals firmly in control.

Garath McCleary isn't usually known for his set-piece delivery, but his first corner this evening was perfectly swung in towards Hal Robson-Kanu at the near post - his glancing header left keeper Ben Williams with no chance as the ball flew into the bottom right corner.

(Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

And three minutes later McCleary grabbed one of his own, as he collected the ball out wide from Chris Gunter, drove inside, and fired in left-footed from the top of the box. It may have been goalbound anyway, but the deflection off Andy Halliday only served to confound Williams in the Bradford net, as the ball looped cruelly over the stranded keeper. Reading were rampant, and looked on the way to the final four - though that's never a certainty with this side!

(Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

In truth, Bradford failed to threaten in the same way they did at Valley Parade, with Michael Hector and particularly Alex Pearce dealing with the hustle and bustle of Jon Stead and James Hanson pretty easily. Instead it was Reading who came closer to a third to kill the tie, as Danny Williams let fly from 25 yards - his namesake in goal was equal to it, though the swerve on the ball meant a parry to safety was the only course of action.

The action then focused on the officials, as referee Mike Jones took a few names for dissent as the first half fizzled out, the early one-two blow knocking Bradford out of their stride. McCleary tried the same trick as earlier from outside the box, but the ball flew over the bar without the aid of a deflection. And Adam Federici finally warmed his gloves on the stroke of half-time, collecting a low cross from Felipe Morais. It's never comfortable being a Reading fan, but most were breathing easy after 45 minutes - the Royals were fully in control.


Clearly the words at half-time from Steve Clarke were along the lines of "don't do anything stupid", as Reading looked to hold onto that lead and see out the match. Phil Parkinson, given a good ovation on his return to the Madejski, made a double switch to try and freshen up the side with more attacking impetus, but after an hour the match was officially over as a contest.

Hanson had already thrown an elbow at Hector which left the Reading centre-back needing treatment, and soon enough Luke Anthony was needed to attend to Nathaniel Chalobah, who took a wild kick in the side from Morais. Studs up, no excuses, though referee Jones initially pulled out the yellow card before (presumably) being told by his assistant that the challenge warranted a straight red card.

(Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

That put Bradford into defensive mode, and Reading into keep-ball mode, though the Royals did add a third to fully calm any remaining doubters who thought they could somehow throw it away. Chalobah collected the ball inside the Bradford half and slipped a through ball to the tireless Mackie, who went for power and fired with gusto past Williams.

(Ian Walton/Getty Images)

With the match just ticking down to full time and the inevitable Reading win, it was a pitch invader who got the biggest cheers from the crowd, as he decided to run towards the Bradford support and do front flips in the penalty area. Not helped by the stadium PA playing the "Benny Hill" music as if to somehow condone his actions, it was a disappointing note on an evening which both sets of fans (and the clubs) are likely to see repercussions for - more on that will no doubt follow on this website in the coming days, but with reports of racism from one Bradford fan, and the post-match pitch invasion, the game might get more press for the wrong reasons.

Full-time came and there followed an inevitable pitch invasion from a fair number of Reading fans, as their Bradford counterparts were guarded by a heavy number of police and stewards. A night worth celebrating, no doubt, and unbridled joy from every Royals fan in the stadium who had just witnessed their team create history.

Que sera, sera...