ITV so desperately wanted this to be a FA Cup third round shock on a Saturday where there was a distinct lack of them. Apparently, according to Steve Ryder, Everton’s 3-1 win over Carlisle was one of many “fascinating stores” because it was 1-1 at one stage! I could hear the straws being clutched from where I was sitting.
As it turns out they nearly got their wish with this game. Reading had plenty of application and of course resilience meaning that Ryder and his cohorts could say “resilient Reading”. We played well for a period in leading up to half time but went to sleep for the rest of the game and seemed content, or only able, to keep Reading back and, although nothing is certain, finish them off at Anfield.
Reading are sponsored by Waitrose and the inside of the player’s tunnel was bedecked in the supermarket chain’s livery. It made it look as Gerrard and his men, as they waited to go on, had just parked their cars in the Twickenham branch and were going through the entrance to the store for a bit of light shopping. Hopefully unlike Rafa in this latest window they won’t have to take some goods back before they can buy! In terms of the game there wasn’t much on offer and what was there was of little value and interest. We can’t really use the excuse others have this weekend in the sense that we fielded a weakened side. Benayoun was on the bench and Darby filled in for the injured Johnson but Gerrard and Torres were present.
As expected the home side began in a spritely manner. Encouraged by a vociferous crowd they buzzed around our goal without doing too much damage. The nearest they got was a disallowed goal from Karacan after a Reading player was deemed active and off side. In case there was any confusion in applying this particular law he also fouled Reina. At the other end Ngog went close with a cross shot after a decent build up. The increasingly ropey Skrtel was perhaps lucky not to concede a penalty when he tussled with Sigurdsson.
However, the moment came that had Ryder and the boys in the studio sliding off their seats. Reading won a free kick on the far right – it was a set piece so do a need to go on? For the record it was over hit Rasiak kept it in steering into the danger and the ball found Church on time before any of our defenders could.
After that we woke up Torres planted a header just over from Kuyt’s cross. Then we equalised. Gerrard cross cum shot was directed at an on side Kuyt. The Dutchman missed it which confused the Reading keeper to enable the ball enter in the near post. Did Kuyt leave it deliberately, I think so, or perhaps he through he was off side or couldn’t get to it? Either way it had the desired effect.
After that Aurelio had a couple of chances to edge us in front the best being a low shot across the face of the goal that just went wide. Although we finished the first half the better side we slumped badly in the second. Aquilani came and must, with the weather and the performance, have wondered what the hell he was doing! Torres nearly repeated last Tuesdays trick of sealing it with a late effort but well before the final whistle Rafa and Reading manager Brian McDermott were blocking out Tuesday 12th in their diaries. Said Rafa after the game
“It was a difficult game and the most positive thing is that we will play another game at Anfield.”
And that is really about all you can say, not a “fascinating story” and certainly not a memorable performance. However, we’re still in the hat and have another chance to complete what in honest should have been a routine job.
Reading: Federici (Hamer 69), Millsyellow, Ingimarsson, Bertrand, Cisse (Howard 74), Gunnarsson, McAnuff, Karacan, Sigurdsson, Church, Rasiak (Long 77), Subs: Hamer, Pearce, Tabb, Kebe, Robson-Kanu, Howard, Long
Liverpool: Reina, Aurelio (Benayoun 79), Insua, Carragher, Darby, Skrtel, Gerrard, Lucas, Torres, Kuyt, Ngog (Aquilani 68) Substitutes: Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Degen, Aquilani, Benayoun, Spearing, Babel