Reading began their FA Cup fixture against Cardiff City in a 4-2-3-1 formation: Walker; Howe, Miazga, McIntyre, Richards; Rinomhota, Adam; McCleary, Aluko, Meite; Loader.
With 11 changes to the side and a substitutes bench completely made up of Under-23 players, it was an experimental team Mark Bowen had fielded, but still competitive enough to face up against a strong Cardiff side. In the opening exchanges it was clear to see that the visitors would use their height and physicality to their advantage, with a number of long balls and throw ins into the box - one of which lead to their opening goal.
However with Charlie Adam in the middle of the park, Reading’s forwards knew that there was a good chance of their runs being picked out. Garath McCleary found space out on the right to stretch the Cardiff defence, whilst Yakou Meite got in behind to play as a second striker at times. With Sone Aluko behind Danny Loader and able to drift out onto the right, he managed to create a few goal scoring chances for both himself and Meite, looking impressive in the first period.
In the second half, with McCleary moving into a central role at times, Reading tried to gain more control in the middle of the park. However, with both Adam and Andy Rinomhota being pressed out of possession on many an occasion by the Bluebirds’ energetic and vicious midfield, the home side failed to gain a hold on the game. Cardiff dominated the rest of the match, managing to squander numerous goal scoring opportunities to win the tie.
With the Royals’ defence looking relatively solid throughout, special mention must not only go to Tom McIntyre (despite his soft red) and Matt Miazga, but also the two replacements, Andre Burley and Gabriel Osho who held the line for the Royals. With impressive displays from Sam Walker and Omar Richards, and Teddy Howe keeping both Junior Hoilett and Josh Murphy quiet, it was a steady performance for the Royals throughout. However they may need a slightly stronger side, with more firepower, to overcome their Welsh opposition in the replay.