Reading will have another home tie in this season’s FA Cup - if they can get past Blackpool of course. The Royals have been drawn to take on either Cardiff City or Carlisle United in the fourth round at the Madejski Stadium, which they’ll do on the weekend of January 25 should we win the replay in Lancashire next week.
January 25 is at the moment set aside for Reading to play Bristol City at home, so that contest will have to be rearranged if the Royals get into the fourth round. Add in the third-round replay, and a potential one in the fourth round, and Mark Bowen may soon have plenty more midweek matches to plan for.
Reading are due to play Cardiff City away from home on January 31, so - if the fixtures fall in a certain way - we could end up playing them three times in a few weeks. Although midweek trips to Cardiff can be a decent enough occasion, the potential prospect of heading up to Carlisle on a Tuesday night really sets apart the men from the boys.
As it happens, the Royals narrowly avoided a trip to Carlisle only two seasons ago. When Reading were involved in a cup replay against Stevenage at the Mad Stad, Sheffield Wednesday took on Carlisle. Had the Owls lost that day, we would have played United in the cup.
Reading’s recent history against Cardiff is fairly straightforward - we’ve been playing them in the Championship regularly, bar the few seasons when one of the teams has been in the Premier League. Of course, we have a recent victory over them to boast about - a 3-0 Mad Stad win live on Sky Sports back in August.
We do have plenty of FA Cup history against the Bluebirds though. Our first meeting against them (in 1927) was also our first FA Cup semi final - something we didn’t repeat until 2015. We’ll want to do much better than the 3-0 loss we suffered that day though.
Reading did however win at Cardiff in the cup in 1934 by two goals to one, before triumphing in a 1998 penalty shoot-out at home after both matches had finished one a piece.
We later lost 2-0 to Cardiff in 2009, but won 2-1 in the Welsh capital in 2015 - our most recent cup meeting against them. That day, goals from Oli Norwood and Hal Robson-Kanu were enough for a victory that pushed us towards that second ever FA Cup semi final.
On the flipside, the Royals have never played Carlisle United in the FA Cup - or in any other cup competition for that matter. We’ve gone head to head 10 times in the league, winning four, drawing four and losing two - every time in the old Division Three.
You have to go back to 1982 for Reading’s last meeting with Carlisle - a 2-2 draw at Elm Park - and 1965 for the one and only time we’ve been beaten at home by them. On that day, United were 2-1 winners.