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FA Cup: Reading 0-2 Crystal Palace

Heartbreak. Absolute heartbreak. After eighty-five minutes Cooper reaches across Bolasie, and the Crystal Palace man takes a tumble inside the box. After a couple of seconds Mike Dean points at the spot. Cabaye converts, even with Al-Habsi managing to get a hand to it and Palace proceed to Wembley. At the ground I thought it was a penalty, from replays it's the definition of soft. After Benteke's tumble last weekend Palace may feel like things have been set right, but from Reading's point of view it was just the solidification of how awful a game Dean had.

Palace were the better team, and really should have been out of sight, but a string of excellent Al-Hasbi saves, alongside some goalline clearances, and Palace's profligacy generally - in total they had twenty-three shots - kept the home side in it. In fact if Ola John had kept his composure when Hennessey flapped at the ball and it fell to the Dutchman, then The Royals could have gone one-nil up. Instead he shot wide from a tight angle, rather than attempting to shift the ball a little more central. In fact both of our best chances fell to John, Hal Robson-Kanu who had a quiet game managed to find space and loop a ball to the back post which found the winger unmarked, but Hennessey got down to his header.

The standard of refereeing in the Championship isn't terrific, but if Mike Dean is anything to go by then the division above isn't much better. It felt like the Palace players were chummier with him than ours. Things that they could get away with our players couldn't. Delaney fouled Hal Robson-Kanu on the edge of the area but escaped a yellow, before Cooper had the exact same foul punished by a booking at the other end. There was also the curious decision that a high foot from Hector lead to a direct free-kick. And don't even get me started on Hennessey going over the top of McShane somehow won the keeper a foul. There were multiple decisions that Reading got that I didn't understand either - but this is an incredibly biased blog that will just accept those.

I expected Obita and Gunter to be torn apart, and while Zaha and Bolasie ran the show in large parts they put up a much better account of themselves than I expected. McShane looked assured alongside them, and if it wasn't for that questionable decision from Dean even Cooper played his part. The latter just needs to learn to keep his head a little more, his first booking was an unnecessary tackle on the edge of the box which could have ended worse if our Omani goalkeeper wasn't having such a solid game. In fact Al-Habsi managed to receive the MOTM from multiple sources despite the final scoreline, and was the main reason that the game stayed goalless for so long.

At the end of the day Palace deserved the game, but the manner of the defeat is what stings.

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