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Because It's The Cup

It's been 102 days since that soul crushing Saturday afternoon at the Madejski, as fans stormed the pitch and then very quickly deserted it again. A long, protracted summer followed. The ownership saga rolled on, with new names being linked on an almost daily basis. Both front runners back in May, Teddy Sagi and Mohit Burman, faded into another 'what if?'. Weeks went by with absolutely no news, as deals fell through at the hands of the mysterious Vibrac Corporation.

Slowly, however, it seemed like something was happening. A young businessman by the name of Samrit Bunditkitsada seemed to be close to taking over from SJM, with a rival group - allegedly containing the much demonised Chris Samuelson - not far behind. Details emerged that Samrit was the head of a quartet interested in purchasing the club, and the entire Reading fanbase appeared to send him friend requests on Facebook. The contrast between the Thai's open, enthusiastic communication with fans, and the club's complete silence was comical but it seemed like a deal was close.

Finally, on the 31st July 2014 Reading announced a 'partnership' with a Thai Consortium - interestingly now led by Khunying Sasima Srivikorn (although most certainly still containing the spritely Samrit). Not long after rumours about potential signings started circulated, and swiftly both Simon Cox (the club's first permanent signing in over a year, and first signing of any sort in over 300 days), and Jamie Mackie put pen to paper to sign with Anton Ferdinand not far behind.

Reading 3-1 Newport County [League Cup]

Which brings us to the 12th August, and the first home game of the season-proper. A cup game against the lowly Newport County, one that should be won easily on paper - especially when fielding what is in essence the strongest available team. However the Welsh side had absolutely nothing to lose, and their fans were certainly up for the encounter.

Indeed it was the away team who had the better of the early exchanges. Reading's defending not inspiring much confidence, and the period of pressure culminated with a good shot from the edge of the box, but it was a fairly routine save from McCarthy. Yet again our left back - this time Cummings - was very narrow, and doesn't get out to the winger to stop the crosses. Better teams already have made us pay for it, and it needs to be sorted.

Yet again Hector had a relatively poor game, trying to ping fifty yard passes a couple of times but overhitting the ball and had to settle for watching it cross the line for a goal kick. Although he did have a period in the first half where his passing was more precise. He seemed to share the jitters with McCarthy, whose passing and general control of the ball was absolutely dire all evening.

Finally Reading found the breakthrough after threatening a couple of times to find their rhythm. A ball over the top from Cummings sent Pog through, and a glorious lob from twenty yards sent The Royals 1-0 up. There were hints of offside, personally I thought their LB had dropped deep and was playing him on, but I was in no way level with play and not in the best position to judge.

Pavel was one of the only shining lights in a pretty poor performance, but he held the ball up well and constantly brought other players in. He had a fairly good relationship with Cox which bodes well for the future. Cox himself looked lively a particularly nice little link up with Blackman sits in the mind, and he almost sent Gunter through but the ball clipped the back of the defender's heels.

Taylor nicked in between keeper and defender as they tried to shield Pav's flicked header, but he put his cross just behind Pog and it was cleared for a corner. From the intial set piece Morrison headed across goal, and the ball was put behind for another corner, before the subsequent inswinger was nodded over by Pearce.

A good header from Cox sent Pav through again, but he was brought down by Feely on the edge of the box. Debatable whether it was a red - to me it probably was but he was going slightly away from goal so the referee's decision to just award a yellow isn't terrible. Obita's free-kick, pretty much the only time he was in the game, floated just over the bar.

Newport's best chance [up to that point] came from Cummings not getting out to the winger, and only being able to deflect his cross into the path of another Newport player, who crossed into O'Connor but the ball went just past the post. Just.

Then Pog put the ball into Blackman, who ran to the edge of the box and fired but his shot was tipped over. From one end to the other, they managed to spring the offside trap - slightly debatably - but their lack of quality showed. Cox then prodded past another Newport defender who brought him down on the edge of the area. Not even a yellow this time, which seemed lenient as he could've got a shot off. Instead of shooting we tried a more subtly worked set-piece, which may have to be used more this season without any 'free-kick specialist', but alas this time it didn't come off.

Every good move started with Pogrebnyak, and again he found Blackman on the right wing, who ran into the box, and shot over from the penalty shot. A real chance to double the lead before it could have been levelled just moments later. Two Newport substitutes gave real impetus to the away side, with Willmot looking particularly close to unlocking the Reading defence.

Blackman then added the finish to the rest of his game, and slotted the ball under the keeper after a magnificent run. He had a really good game, and with his shooting boots on he could have had a hat-trick. Akpan had a chance to put the gloss on the performance, their keeper came rushing out, and under pressure from Edwards put a poor clearance straight to the feet of Akpan but his attempt from fourty yards just missed past the left hand post.

Reading then withdrew with some really nice passing, but Cummings got caught going backwards and eventually their spell of possession led to a corner, which they put away to make it 2-1. Again Pogrebnyak was involved at the end when he linked with Edwards, who sent Tanner through, who put the ball into the net for a goal on debut. 

3-1 might be slightly flattering, but a win is a win. Especially considering our nature of defeat last year. The draw is tonight, and hopefully we get a nice Tuesday night away trip in the next round!


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