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Reading FC 1-0 Fulham: The Royals Are Going To Wembley

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Que sera, sera...

Reading v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship Play Off: Second Leg Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Every club and every stadium has its generation defining moments. Tuesday, May 16th 2017 is now one of those moments. Now added to the Madejski Stadium's Hall of Fame is Yann Kermorgant's match winning penalty. The penalty that sends Jaap Stam's Royals to Wembley. The penalty that terminates bright, pretty, athletic Fulham's season. The penalty that keeps the impossible dream alive - although it's only considered impossible by those who continue to underestimate Reading FC in 2017.

First Half

The game began amidst the news we all feared; Jordan Obita was injured and his man of the match performance from the 1-1 first leg had asked that little bit too much of him, and Tyler Blackett shifted to left-back in a 5-3-2 with Joey van den Berg and Tiago Ilori starting.

Backed by a boisterous Mad Stad, Reading leapt out the blocks and caught the Cottagers napping much like the first leg, Kermorgant forcing an immense low save from Bettinelli after a lovely over the top ball by van den Berg.

If the Royals dominated the first 15 minutes, the next quarter of an hour was all Fulham. Now alive and kicking, Slavisa Jokanovic's side threatened through the pacey Fredericks, denied by Ali Al-Habsi at the near post; Tom Cairney, denied by Al-Habsi at the near post; and then Sone Aluko - same result. Duh.

After those early blows, the half settled down and finished evenly, and after 135 minutes of football, every fan was left wondering exactly how to seperate these two sides.

Second Half

A penalty. That's how you separate these two sides. A ball over the top was wrestled for by Kermorgant and Kalas, the Frenchman getting the better of his man to force him into a clumsy handball. Reading's top scorer did the rest, the panenka remaining firmly under lock and key in association football's darkest dungeons.

Naturally, the Royals fans were bouncing. It was Forster in the Wigan play-off, it was Murty's penalty in '06, it was Harper making it 3-1 against Liverpool - and it could have been 2-0. So soon after, Lewis Grabban burst into the box and was denied by Bettinelli's strong, Italian palms as Reading smelt blood.

John Swift, also, burst into the area to latch onto a Chris Gunter lay-off. It was perfect, it was the clincher, but the young midfielder picked the wrong foot, and found a grateful Bettinelli clutching the ball, the home crowd agasp.

The fervour around the Mad Stad began to wheeze. There was still half an hour to go, half an hour of tactical time wasting and Fulham crosses and substitute after substitute of familiar names, all tipped by pundits from the length and breadth of Putney Bridge to be the one to hammer home the Cottagers' inevitable superiority.

It never came.

Lucas Piazon, ye of little faith, was the first to be denied by a delightful Liam Moore block. Then it was the schoolboy substitute Sessegnon, then it was Aluko, then it was McDonald. Epochs later, the fourth official hung up a board to read five minutes of stoppage time.

Still the Royals pressed when they could, but became petrified every time they entered the visiting half, torn between staying and going. In the end it was Martin Atkinson and his whistle who decided. Reading were going to Wembley.