It’s FA Cup time!
Reading make the trip to Worcestershire this afternoon as they face non-league Kidderminster Harriers, with the hosts looking to pull off one of the biggest shocks of the competition’s third round.
Currently plying their trade in the sixth tier of English football, they will be under no pressure in this one and will be hoping to utilise their home advantage to their benefit, against a side that must be lacking in confidence following their late collapse against Derby County.
This presents the underdogs with a real opportunity to take advantage in this tie - but will the differing pressure on the two sides show? That remains to be seen.
For now, here are some of the facts and stats you need to know ahead of kick-off.
What? FA Cup Round Three
Who? Kidderminster Harriers
Where? Aggborough Stadium
When? Saturday 8th January 2022
Opposition Manager? Russ Penn
Our Last FA Cup Match
Luton 1-0 Reading
Lineup: Southwood, Bristow, Dorsett, McIntyre, Esteves, Semedo, Pendlebury, Onen, Olise, Aluko, Baldock
- Today’s home side have scored in each of their last 13 competitive matches. Can they make it 14 today?
- They have also kept a clean sheet in their last four FA Cup matches. Is that a good omen for today?
- After firing blanks in three consecutive matches, Reading have scored in five of their last seven league games since then.
- In better news for Kidderminster, the Royals have conceded in each of their last 11 league matches. A pretty poor record to say the least.
Predicted Reading lineup: Rafael, Bristow, Dann, Stickland, Araruna, Laurent Hoilett, Camara, Azeez, Clarke, Puscas
Although there does seem to be quite a bit of speculation surrounding his future at this stage, Rafael comes in as Luke Southwood’s deputy and may even give himself a small chance of retaining his spot if he can put in a decent performance today. He will need to stay alert at all times.
At right-back, Felipe Araruna comes in with Tyrell Ashcroft potentially recovering from the eye problem he sustained against Derby and Andy Yiadom now at AFCON. Michael Stickland also starts but Scott Dann retains his place as a more experienced head, with Ethan Bristow the second academy graduate in that backline to start as Baba Rahman joins Yiadom in Cameroon.
Josh Laurent may also have to start again in the absence of Andy Rinomhota and Danny Drinkwater, both of whom failed to return to the matchday squad on Monday afternoon. This gives Tom Dele-Bashiru a bit of respite, although he may replace Laurent at some point as a likely bench option.
Mamadi Camara starts as the more advanced player in the middle of the park as John Swift comes out. The latter had a decent first half in the Royals’ last game - but he went quiet in the second 45 and has generally been out of games recently. Getting him involved in future fixtures could be the key to survival.
In a bid to build up his minutes, Junior Hoilett starts once again and could be crucial as an experienced player out on the pitch, with Femi Azeez taking his place on the opposite side as another wing threat. He will be hoping to make it through the 90 minutes as his main priority after spending much of the season out injured.
This four in the midfield allows Pauno to play two up top - and to give Andy Carroll a rest in case he signs a contract extension - Jahmari Clarke starts alongside George Puscas. Both were on the bench on Monday and both will be champing at the bit to get in and amongst the goals. This has to be last chance saloon for Puscas though - a goal is required.
Moving on, it’s score prediction time! This is a difficult one to predict - but I do believe this will be an incredibly uncomfortable for the visitors. The tie has to be decided on the day - and I reckon we may just scrape through in 90 minutes. 1-0 is what I’ll go with. The scorer? I’ll let you decide. I would potentially go with a more experienced lineup than Pauno is likely to put out though.
Score Prediction: Kidderminster Harriers 0-1 Reading
Other FA Cup fixtures this weekend (including Championship teams)
Mansfield Town vs Middlesbrough (12:15pm)
Bristol City vs Fulham
Burnley vs Huddersfield Town
Coventry City vs Derby County
Hartlepool United vs Blackpool (All 12:30pm)
Millwall vs Crystal Palace (12:45pm)
Barnsley vs Barrow
Peterborough United vs Bristol Rovers
Queens Park Rangers vs Rotherham United
West Bromwich Albion vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Wigan Athletic vs Blackburn Rovers (All 3pm)
Birmingham City vs Plymouth Argyle
Hull City vs Everton
Swansea City vs Southampton (All 5:30pm)
Yeovil Town vs AFC Bournemouth (5:45pm)
Luton Town vs Harrogate Town (12:30pm)
Cardiff City vs Preston North End
Stoke City vs Leyton Orient
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Sheffield United (All 2pm)
Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal (5:10pm)