FA Cup football returns for Reading this weekend as they face Luton Town away from home, looking to make it in to the fourth round draw.
This is the third meeting between the two sides so far this season, with the Royals losing a Carabao Cup tie against the Hatters at the start of the season before going on to beat them 2-1 on Boxing Day. The fourth is set to be played in April - and Reading will be looking to pick up two wins in the remaining ties at Kenilworth Road.
Can they win today though? I think it will be a close one personally, with both teams likely to start quite a few inexperienced players - but it will be exciting to see who starts today. Bring on 11am and the team sheet!
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this FA Cup tie, hopefully not our only tie in the competition this season.
What? FA Cup Round Three
Who? Luton Town
Where? Kenilworth Road
When? Saturday 9th January 2021
Opposition Manager? Nathan Jones
Our last FA Cup clash
Reading 1-2 Sheffield United
This was gutting, especially after battling so well against the Blades in this fifth round fixture.
In all fairness, we could have been blown away early on after David McGoldrick headed in from close range in the second minute. However, the Royals managed to keep it at 1-0 after a bad start and even threatened the Sheffield United goal through Yakou Meite’s long range strike.
The Royals won a penalty just a few minutes before half time, when Andy Rinomhota was bundled over trying to meet Michael Olise’s cross - and this was converted well by George Puscas, celebrating in front of a very loud Club 1871.
It took the Premier League visitors until stoppage time at the end of the first half of extra time to take the lead again, when Luke Freeman’s cross was met by the head of former Royal Billy Sharp. Reading nearly equalised on two occasions through Pele - but it wasn’t meant to be and Sheffield United were the side who would go on to the quarter final stage, where they lost 2-1 at home to Arsenal.
The Last Meeting
Reading 2-1 Luton Town
Reading got off to the perfect start within ten minutes against Luton Town, when Sone Aluko’s corner was volleyed home by Tom McIntyre - a brilliant, brilliant training ground routine which allowed the home side to settle in to the game quite nicely.
The home side doubled their lead before the break when Sam Baldock’s through ball to Alfa Semedo was slotted home well by the Benfica loanee - and from there - it seemed to be a pretty comfortable advantage for the Royals. To be fair though, Luton probably should have had a penalty when McIntyre came crashing in on a Luton player on the left-hand side - but the referee didn’t seem to be interested.
Luton did put on a decent showing in the second half though - and dominated for large spells in the latter 45. However, they struck way too late in the 90th minute through Kazenga LuaLua and the Royals were able to hold on quite comfortably for the remaining moments. This was a vital three points on Boxing Day but can the Berkshire side win again today?
- Luton Town have scored ten more goals at Kenilworth Road than away from home in the league this season, playing 11 at home and 11 away. Will this be a danger to Reading at the weekend?
- The Hatters have only scored 20 goals in 22 league games so far in this campaign though. The attacking side of their game has to improve.
- Reading have scored in all but one of their meetings with Luton Town over the last 25 years. This run started on 17th April 1995 - and apparently Back For Good by Take That was number one in the charts at the time.
- The Royals have actually scored 15 times in their previous five meetings against Luton. Wowzer.
Likely Reading lineup: Southwood, Bristow, McIntyre, Dorsett, Watson, Semedo, Tetek, Azeez, Onen, Esteves, Puscas
I back Veljko Paunovic to make wholesale changes in this one, especially with our compressed fixture list this season due to the pandemic.
Luke Southwood starts in goal for me, with Ethan Bristow at left back, Tom McIntyre and Jeriel Dorsett in the middle to give Michael Morrison a rest and Tennai Watson at right back allowing Tomas Esteves to push on. Perhaps starting McIntyre would be a risk given Liam Moore’s injury – but I believe Nelson Abbey is currently out injured and giving the Scottish youth international the chance to rebuild his confidence at centre back might be key over the next few weeks.
In midfield, Alfa Semedo starts alongside Dejan Tetek, although Ryan East may come in if the latter is indeed injured. Because of the performances of Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent, we haven’t been given a proper chance to see Semedo in his natural position in defensive midfield – now is the chance to throw him in there with John Swift returning, limiting his chances of starting a league game.
In front of Semedo and Tetek, Femi Azeez, Jayden Onen (if he is fully fit after having to self-isolate Post-Swansea) and Tomas Esteves all get the nod, with Onen in the centre just behind George Puscas. Onen seems to have done well since making the move to Berkshire – and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him fully involved on Saturday despite his Covid setback. It would also be good to see Esteves with less defensive responsibilities as he lines up on the right of the trio, providing service to Puscas and showing the trickery that excited many Reading fans before his arrival in England.
Moving on to the score prediction, this will be quite a close game I think – but I back Reading to just about prevail on penalties. Remember: there are no FA Cup replays this year. But in all fairness, Reading and Luton are probably sick of each other already – and will meet again in April. Let’s win these remaining two ties!
Score Prediction: Luton Town 0-0 Reading (Reading win on pens)
Other Saturday FA Cup third round ties
All Saturday 9th January (3pm KO) unless stated:
Boreham Wood vs Millwall
Everton vs Rotherham United
Norwich City vs Coventry City
Nottingham Forest vs Cardiff City (All 12pm KO)
Chorley vs Derby County (12:15pm KO)
Blackburn Rovers vs Doncaster Rovers
Blackpool vs West Bromwich Albion
Bristol Rovers vs Sheffield United
Burnley vs Milton Keynes Dons
Exeter City vs Sheffield Wednesday
Oldham Athletic vs AFC Bournemouth
Queens Park Rangers vs Fulham
Stevenage vs Swansea City
Stoke City vs Leicester City
Wycombe Wanderers vs Preston North End
Arsenal vs Newcastle United (5:30pm KO)
Brentford vs Middlesbrough
Huddersfield Town vs Plymouth Argyle (Both 6pm KO)
Manchester United vs Watford
Southampton vs Shrewsbury Town (Both 8pm KO)