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Bradford 0-0 Reading

The FA Cup Quarter Finals generally mean heartbreak for Reading fans, and that could still be the case after the side battled in a hard fought 0-0 draw at a sold out Valley Parade.

In the first half Reading were the better side, but were obviously under instruction to clear the ball at the first chance they could, which meant that clever build up play was few and far between. Jamie Mackie battled for absolutely everything down the right hand side, while Pog ran and ran, albeit with varying success. As the half progressed Danny Williams came more into the game, with a couple of bursting runs, and two long range efforts which didn't trouble the keeper. The only real chance of note was from the right; Mackie managed to get in behind the defender and pulled it back to Pogrebnyak, but his shot ricocheted against the post and harmlessly away. 

Pearce and Hector looked solid at the back, and were rarely troubled in the first 45. The Royals maintained a pretty rigid back four, with Kelly and Obita only occasionally supporting the play, and almost never overlapping and getting in behind - hence the selection of Kelly over Gunter, perhaps. A lot of that will have had to do with the pitch; in the build up it was touted as a big factor, and it performed just as expected - which is to say, appallingly. Reading had obviously learnt from Adam Johnson in the last round, and didn't take any chances at the back, whereas further up the pitch it was bouncing off players and very rarely did Pog manage to take it under control and lay it off to Chalobah or Norwood. When he did it was often this next pass that broke play down.

Although the first half may have belonged to the Southeners it's clear why Bradford have managed to pick off so many. At the end of the first period they were inches away from scoring themselves, a cross-come-shot not getting a touch from anyone and eventually hitting the post, and then, within the first minute of the second half, they almost opened the scoring again, the ball found an unmarked Bradford player at the back post but he scuffed his shot. From there the game solely belonged to The Bantams.

Possibly the best chance of the afternoon came when Stead flicked a fierce header just over Federici's bar, but in truth the Australian actually had few saves to make - just like his opposite number. Neither Yakubu, nor McCleary's introduction ever really threatened to change that fact, although Reading had the last good chance when Norwood's free kick found a gaggle of bodies threatening the far post, but nobody could scramble the ball home.

My only real complaint is the officials. The ref gave nothing all afternoon in regards to climbing, or leading with the arm. It got ridiculous at one stage, and his linesman on our near side didn't help at all. The occasion clearly got to him as he was clearly seeing something different to the rest of the ground. He had to be overruled by the referee twice for obvious throw ins. There was also a quite bizarre period of play that was brought back for a foul throw what felt like a minute before hand. Equally only four additional minutes after six subs and a lengthy stoppage for Chalobah was baffling.

All-in-all I think the team will take the result. The second half they never really looked to attack, and were clearly weary of an in-form side. On the Madejski pitch, where they can actually play out from the back and build attacks, I'm more confident of our chances, but Chelsea's pitch is immeasurably better than ours and look what happened to them. Whether the team can bare to play yet another game is an interesting dilemma, and at some point the League may have to take precedence. Bradford will probably be disappointed at not being able to take their chances but the game really was split down half time, and a draw is fairly respective of the ninety minutes. 


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