It wasn’t perhaps quite the climax that many fans anticipated with a carnival atmosphere inside the Coral Windows Stadium but the Wembley dream still remains as both sides will have to battle it out the Madejski Stadium a week on Monday it seems. Reading edged the first half but City looked the more likely of the two sides to get a winner in the second half, James Hanson and Andrew Davies going particularly close. Pavel Pogrebnyak almost found a late winner for the visitors in an almighty scramble but both sides had to settle for a draw.
It was a nervy opening to the game with the Championship side spending plenty of time in City’s half but the first chance of the game belonged to the Bantams. James Meredith, who was one of the star performers at left back, delivered a cross into the area, James Hanson headed the ball towards goal and Jon Stead couldn’t quite reach the ball as Adam Federici held.
Danny Williams looked a lively player for the Royals, particularly in the first half and after bursting down the right hand side, he found space to deliver a cross-shot which his namesake Ben Williams held alertly.
Reading looked a danger down the right hand side with Jamie Mackie occupying a position on the flank and it was him who got to the byline on this occasion. His cutback found Pogrebnyak and the Russian frontman hit a shot towards goal that clipped the outside of the post with Ben Williams rooted to the spot.
Shortly after the visitors had hit the woodwork, City did just that themselves. Hanson did well to keep the ball in play in the corner and he cut the ball back to Gary Liddle who whipped a dangerous cross into the area which caught everybody out and came back off the far post.
Just before the half was out, there was one more half chance and it belonged to the visitors; Oliver Norwood got the better of Liddle and Billy Knott in an aerial challenge before Danny Williams picked up the loose ball and fired an audacious shot from the best part of 30 yards which didn’t go too far over the cross bar.
The home supporters were probably happy to see the back of a first half that Steve Clarke’s men edged but it was a different story in the second half as City really raised their game and gave Reading problems. Within the first 60 seconds of the second half there was a big chance; Hanson, in the unusual position out wide on the left, delivered a cross into the area towards Stead that came out to Morais, but he scuffed his effort which Federici dealt with.
Chelsea loanee Nathaniel Chalobah had a half chance for the visitors shortly after, City only half cleared a set-piece and the ball came out to him but his low drive lacked power and accuracy and went comfortably wide of the target.
Jon Stead almost continued his run of a goal in each round when he latched onto Billy Clarke’s looped ball forward to get in behind Michael Hector and Alex Pearce but fortunately for the visitors, Stephen Kelly made a vital intervention to force a corner when Stead had looked set to shoot.
At this stage, the Bantams were really in the ascendancy and it was James Hanson who was presented with a real chance of opening the scoring. Clarke picked out Stead in the channel and his low cutback was turned inches wide of the near post by Hanson.
Andrew Davies then had perhaps City’s best chance of the match with just 15 minutes left on the clock. Filipe Morais was fouled and then he stepped up to deliver a free kick into the area that Davies connected with cleanly, but his bullet header went inches over Federici’s crossbar.
There was a hearts in your mouth moment with a few minutes left when the game looked to be heading for a draw as Reading almost snatched it. Oliver Norwood delivered a cross into the area, towards the far post that Williams couldn’t reached and Pogrebnyak headed the ball downwards towards goal and the ball was eventually cleared.
The result was a draw which means the two sides will have to fight it out at the Madejski Stadium in just over a week’s time for a place in the FA Cup semi-final. Take two it is!