Long swings it Reading's way
STEVENAGE 1 READING 2
Reading managed to avoid the fate suffered by Newcastle by holding off a spirited Stevenage side to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup.
There was to be no repeat of the joyous scenes at the Lamex Stadium after Stevenage's 3-1 win over Newcastle, as a late Shane Long goal saw off the League Two side, 51 places below Reading.
But it was another emotion-packed afternoon in which Stevenage pushed the Championship side close and referee Anthony Taylor turned down strong penalty appeals for each team.
Reading went ahead in the 23rd minute with a goal from Mikele Leigertwood, and although Darius Charles equalised 19 minutes from the end, Long hit his 15th goal of the season to finish off Graham Westley's side.
"We were on the back foot for the last half-hour and we had to hang on in there," said Brian McDermott, the Reading manager. "I knew it would be tough. I love the FA Cup and this was a great game in front of a full house."
Westley thought his side should have had a penalty when substitute Rob Sinclair was tripped by Ivar Ingimarsson in the 69th minute, although his side escaped an appeal in their own area shortly before half-time.
By that stage Reading were ahead, when Leigertwood, on loan from QPR, fired in a low shot from 25 yards though a crowded penalty area.
Westley made several changes at the break, the most significant of which was to push Charles up front from left-back. It paid off in the 71st minute when Charles ran on to a pass from Jon Ashton, taking the ball from the halfway line before curling a shot past Adam Federici in the Reading goal.
But with a replay looming, Reading got the decisive goal in the dying minutes when Long ghosted in on Jobi McAnuff's perfect cross from the left to volley home from close range.
"We were gutted to lose the late goal," said Westley. "We've got a lot of young players who are getting better and better, and they will take a lot of confidence from this cup run. It's been a great journey."
Sunday Indo Sport