Reading have an all-Championship tie in the second round of the League Cup, taking on Luton Town at the Madejski Stadium. The match is due to take place in around nine days on Tuesday September 15.
In a novel twist coming as a result of the congested fixture list, with the League Cup crammed into the opening weeks of the season, Reading know their third-round opponents too. We’ll be going up against Manchester United at the Mad Stad if we get past the Hatters. That tie is set to take place a week after the second-round fixture.
On paper the Luton Town game looks like a very winnable game for us. The Royals did the double over Luton last season, first triumphing 3-0 at the Madejski Stadium thanks to goals from Michael Morrison, Sam Baldock and Garath McCleary, before thrashing the Hatters 5-0 at Kenilworth Road. Yakou Meite ran riot that day with four goals, while George Puscas added the fifth.
The last meeting between the two sides before last season came in this competition, back in 2008, and again Reading were comfortable winners. A Steve Coppell side ran out 5-1 victors thanks to strikes from Noel Hunt, Stephen Hunt, Alex Pearce, Jem Karacan and James Henry.
The possible Man United fixture on the other hand is a very tall order, but the potential is there for a cup upset, which should be motivation enough for us to get past Luton. This would be our first meeting with the Red Devils in the League Cup, although we’ve played them a whopping 15 times in the FA Cup, winning just one of those - a 2-1 home victory on our way to the semi-finals in 1927.
Last time we met, a Jose Gomes side went down 2-0 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup thanks to first-half goals from Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku. A Jaap Stam team fared worse two years earlier, when United ran out 4-0 winners; Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford (x2) were the scorers that day.
Annoyingly, this would have been a great occasion if attendance restrictions weren’t in place. Welcoming a big club to the Mad Stad under the lights, with the opportunity for a cup upset, would have made for a more special match than we’ve generally otherwise had in the cup in recent years. As it stands though, the Mad Stad will probably be allowed to open its doors once more (partially) from the beginning of October.