Reading welcome Cardiff City to Berkshire on Saturday in an FA Cup fourth-round tie where both sides will feel they have a great chance to get through to the next stage of the competition.
The home team have a good record against this weekend’s opponents in recent years and the Welsh side have really struggled under Neil Harris lately. However, the Royals are likely to play a second-string XI if the ties against Blackpool are anything to go by. This is a real chance for some of the younger players to shine - can they grab this opportunity with both hands?
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup tie against fellow Championship side Cardiff.
What? FA Cup Round 4
Who? Cardiff City
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Saturday 25th January 2020 (3pm KO)
The last meeting
Reading 3-0 Cardiff City
George Puscas’ fantastic solo effort before the half-hour mark put the Royals 1-0 up, with the side desperately looking to get some points after two defeats in their opening two Championship games against Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City. The Romanian scored again a quarter of an hour later before half time, when he converted from a John Swift cross from the left hand side.
Swift sealed Reading’s victory late on when his run down the right hand side went unchallenged for him to steer the ball past Alex Smithies. The home side even had the chance to make it 4-0 late on, when Andy Yiadom was brought down in the box by Aden Flint. However, Yakou Meite’s spot kick was smartly saved by Cardiff’s goalkeeper to keep the score at 3-0. Job done for Jose Gomes – a clean sheet and a convincing attacking performance to go with it.
- Reading have scored in eight of their last nine games in all competitions.
- The Royals are unbeaten in their last six games against Cardiff City. Will they make it seven this Saturday?
- Cardiff City have won just one of their last eight Championship games.
- The Bluebirds have also just won two of their fifteen away league games. Will this poor form away from home continue this weekend in the FA Cup?
Likely Reading lineup: Walker, Richards, McIntyre, Miazga, Howe, Rinomhota, Adam, Aluko, McCleary, Baldock, Boye
Sam Walker is likely to start in between the sticks again, giving Rafael a rest as Luke Southwood heads back out on loan to Scottish side Hamilton Academical. He made some very important saves against Blackpool and will be needed again if Reading are to progress through to the fifth round.
Academy graduates Omar Richards, Tom McIntyre and Teddy Howe are likely to be three of the home side’s four defenders that start this weekend, with Matt Miazga also in line to make his first appearance for a while. Richards has already established himself as a big part of the first team, whilst McIntyre and Howe are still fighting their way to be in the matchday 18 regularly.
Charlie Adam could also start this weekend, after only being on the bench in midweek. Andy Rinomhota will be alongside him and will have to put in a phenomenal performance in order to feature more in the league.
If he can replicate his form of last season, there’s no reason why he won’t be able to regain his starting place. Sone Aluko and Garath McCleary could provide a real threat from the wings with their experience. The former really needs to start performing well if he’s to revive his career at the Madejski Stadium.
Up front, Sam Baldock and Lucas Boye have the potential to form a great partnership. Will the duo be as successful as Puscas who bagged that brace against the Bluebirds earlier on in the season? Let’s hope so. I back Baldock or Boye to get the decisive goal this weekend. McIntyre and Miazga have the ability to keep a clean sheet at the heart of defence.
Score prediction: Reading 1-0 Cardiff City
Other FA Cup fixtures involving Championship teams on Saturday
Brentford vs Leicester City (Friday 24th January 7:45pm KO)
Coventry City vs Birmingham City
Millwall vs Sheffield United
Portsmouth vs Barnsley
West Ham United vs West Bromwich Albion
Hull City vs Chelsea (5:30pm KO)