Reading’s FA Cup third-round opposition has been decided... and it’s another meeting with Luton Town. The Royals faced the Hatters in the second round of the League Cup earlier this season, losing 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium, and will be hoping to do better this time round.
The tie is due to take place on the weekend of January 9 2021, although I’m sure the broadcasters will be bitterly fighting over the rights to televise this all-Championship clash, so the exact date isn’t decided. It’s also too soon to know if any fans will be allowed into that game, let alone away fans. The game will likely be available to stream regardless though.
It’s not the exciting tie we’d have wanted really, as Andy Yiadom dryly noted on Twitter.
Reading played Luton twice last season, once already this season, and will have done so again - on Boxing Day at the Madejski Stadium - by the time we head to Kenilworth Road in early January. We’re then due to return to Bedfordshire in the Championship at the end of April, and might even make it five or six meetings if we play the Hatters in the play-offs.
This is however only the second time we’ve met the Hatters in this competition; Reading lost 2-1 at Kenilworth Road in December 1963. In the other 53 meetings between the clubs since the first meeting in 1921 - the bulk of them coming in the old Division Three South, Reading have won 25 to Luton’s 20, with eight draws.
In last season’s competition, we got all the way to the fifth round before being knocked out by Premier League opposition. Sheffield United won 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium in extra time - the most recent fixture at the Mad Stad with non-cardboard fans in attendance.
Earlier on in the competition there were consecutive replay triumphs. Reading won 2-0 at Blackpool after an underwhelming 2-2 in Berkshire, then drawing 1-1 with Cardiff City at home before seeing off the Bluebirds in South Wales in a dramatic game, coming from 2-0 down and then 3-2 down before winning on penalties.
I’d have loved a more interesting fixture for Reading - particularly going up against a club we’ve not played in recent years. This game is however a winnable tie, so hopefully we’ll be in the hat for the fourth round.