The Big Match Preview: - Reading (H) - 07/03/15
After missing out on the play-offs last season by just a point, behind Brighton & Hove Albion, Reading will have hoped for another push at the play-offs and potential promotion once again this season. It hasn’t quite worked out for them so far this season and they look a fair distance from reaching the top six this campaign. Reading have been in the Premier League twice in the last nine years and their fans will be hoping that a return to the top flight isn’t too much to hope for in the coming seasons.
Ins and Outs
Transfers in for Reading this season have been pretty much cancelled out by transfers out, as Reading looked to sensibly build their squad for the 2014-15 season. Adam Le Fondre was sold to Cardiff City for an undisclosed fee but the strike department was bolstered by the arrival of Simon Cox from Nottingham Forest and more recently, Yakubu from Qatari side Al-Rayyan.
Anton Ferdinand was brought in from Turkish side Antalyaspor and Jure Travner from Azerbaijani side FC Baku to bolster the defensive ranks and particularly cover for the departure of Sean Morrison to Cardiff City. Oliver Norwood (pictured above) arrived at the Madejski Stadium for an undisclosed fee from Huddersfield Town, with midfield duo Daniel Carrico and Royston Drenthe going to Sevilla and Kayseri Erciyesspor respectively. Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy departed also, moving to newly promoted Premier League side Queens Park Rangers.
Current League Position
Reading are currently 18th in the Championship, following a run which has seen them win just three times in 11 league matches since the turn of the New Year. A win for Fulham at the weekend could see Reading drop a place to 19th, but there is a big game for them next Tuesday night when they host Brighton & Hove Albion. They are 20 points off the play-offs and 10 above the relegation zone as this article is being written.
Ben Williams is likely to take his place back in goal, the former Manchester United stopper has been a regular throughout the FA Cup run. Filipe Morais will probably need a late fitness test after four games out with a knee injury picked up in the 2-0 away victory at Leyton Orient. Speaking to the press on Thursday, Phil Parkinson felt Morais was still touch and go for the tie. Andrew Davies and James Hanson are slight doubts due to recent knocks but both should be fine. Gary Liddle is available again after a two match suspension that has kept him out of the games against Peterborough United and Crawley Town after he picked up his tenth booking of the season.
Reading’s leading scorer Simon Cox is a doubt for the tie with an ankle problem picked up at Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday. With this in mind, Steve Clarke could give a start to Yakubu or Jamie Mackie in attack. Jem Karacan and Anton Ferdinand remain sidelined for the Royals.
Last Meetings with Reading:
Our last meeting with The Royals was way back in April 2004, almost 11 years ago with The Bantams coming out on top with a 2-1 victory at Valley Parade. The reverse fixture in October 2003 at the Madejski Stadium finished in a 2-2 draw.
Reading’s Recent Form
03/03/15 | Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Reading | Championship | D
28/02/15 | Reading 0-3 Nottingham Forest | Championship | L
24/02/15 | Huddersfield Town 3-0 Reading | Championship | L
21/02/15 | Ipswich Town 0-1 Reading | Championship | W
17/02/15 | Reading 0-1 Wigan Athletic | Championship | L
Simon Cox is a doubt for the game but should he play, it is likely that he will start up front with Pavel Pogrebnyak, with Yakubu potentially starting from the bench. Pogrebnyak has a great pedigree and has played in the top flight in three different countries and also has 33 caps for Russia on the international stage. The Moscow born frontman began his career with Spartak Moscow before a move to Tom Tomsk. Pavel subsequently moved to Zenit St. Petersburg before a 2009 move to VfB Stuttgart. After three years in the Bundesliga, he moved to Fulham in 2012 but later the same year, he moved to Reading. He has scored 21 goals in 88 league appearances to date for The Royals.
Ref Watch – Lee Mason
Lee has refereed 23 games so far this season, the latest being Liverpool’s 2-0 victory against Burnley on Wednesday night. He has dished out 76 yellow cards this season – that’s an average of 3.3 per game. Mason has brandished 5 red cards this season, and the vast majority of matches that he’s refereed have been Premier League fixtures.
Despite the Bantams being a division below Reading, the Football League’s official betting partner, Sky Bet, have them as favourite to overcome Steve Clarke’s men.
Bradford – 6/4
Draw – 9/4
Reading – 9/5