Reading: Federici (6); Harte (6), Gorkss (5), Pearce (6), Gunter (7); McAnuff (6), Karacan (6) (Tabb 6), Leigertwood (6), McCleary (8) (Hunt 6), Guthrie (7), Pogrebnyak (8)
Reading earned a place in the League Cup third round for the first time in 4 years with a 3-2 win over Championship side Peterborough at the Madejski Stadium.
Sadly despite one of the most paper thin defences we've seen from an opposition for a long while, Reading could only win by a single goal and throughout most of the second half looked the less likely to score. Still, on the positive side the Pog got his first competitive goal in front of the Reading fans while Garath McCleary and Danny Guthrie were both impressive.
Join us for more thoughts on an interesting night at the Madejski after the jump.
Saturday's postponement at Sunderland, coupled with the fact there's no Premier League game for three weeks, enabled Brian McDermott to name the same team that had lost at Chelsea 6 days beforehand. That meant that Reading once again lined up in a 4-2-3-1 with Guthrie in the 'Sigurdsson' role behind the Pog.
Peterborough meanwhile named several of the side that had beaten us so comfortably at London Road in March, with dangermen Paul Taylor and George Boyd both included in the starting lineup. The two sides had shared 20 goals in their last four meetings and it didn't take long for the goals to start flowing again when Alex Pearce and Kaspars Gorkss both went for the same ball, collided and saw the ball fall kindly to Taylor, who after a nice 1-2, fired past Federici to put the Posh ahead. Some have laid some blame at Federici's door and at first glance it certainly didn't look great but having seen a replay it's not one you'd expect a keeper to make.
The Royals were level four minutes later as Chris Gunter found Pog in the box who was able to scramble the ball home at the second attempt. At this stage we thought, here come the goals but Peterborough stunned the 7,000 odd Reading fans in the ground by taking the lead for a second time through Lee Tomlin. It was a sloppy goal to concede, with Gorkss caught the wrong side of Tomlin and easily outpaced by the Posh forward who fired a shot towards Federici's near post which the Aussie could only parry into his own net. This one you would have expected Fedders to do better with but credit to the Reading goalkeeper who made a fine save later in the half from George Boyd.
Reading equalised again on 19 minutes when Chris Gunter's low cross from the right evaded everyone in the box to sneak into the far post of the Posh goalkeeper. 2-2 and finally Reading were able to get their noses in front with the game's final goal 7 minutes before the break. Once again a cross from the right caused trouble and Peterborough defender Knight-Percival got the final touch to guide it into his own net when under heavy pressure from McCleary.
The second half was a lot more sedate with Reading easing off somewhat and Posh not able to take their chances when presented with them. Boyd had the best of them, seeing his header loop onto the top of the net, while Newell should have done better when he sidefooted over from 8 yards. For the Royals, Noel Hunt had a fine effort pushed onto the post while Pog once again went close with a header.
Overall and you'd say that Reading just about deserved to win the game and despite some shaky moments I'm quite confident the defence would have been a lot tighter had it been a Premier League game.
Individual performance wise and it was a mixed night for Adam Federici who was poor for Peterborough's second but otherwise looked solid, making a key save at both 2-2 and 3-2. Hopefully these two and a bit weeks will do the keeper the world of good.
Ian Harte had a very quiet game, while Chris Gunter did well in attacking positions but still looked a little bit shaky defensively. Alex Pearce was OK without being spectacular while Kaspars Gorkss will probably want to put this one behind him fairly quickly.
Midfield wise and Jobi McAnuff was fairly anonymous, a bit of a disappointment considering how dangerous the other forward players were looking. As mentioned McCleary looked great, posing a constant threat down the right hand side and not afraid to have a go at Posh's left back. Jem Karacan and Mikele Leigertwood did what they had to do while Danny Guthrie was again a man-of-the-match candidate.
Up front and Pogrebnyak looked a class above the Peterborough defenders and if things had gone his way he could easily have had a hat-trick.
Noel Hunt and Jay Tabb both came off the bench but neither had too much to shout about, though Hunt was unlucky not to nab a fourth goal late on after a great couple of bits of skill.
A quick word on the crowd, it was strange that only just over 7,000 turned up last night given how cheap the tickets were and how long it is between home games. While the opposition wasn't exactly glamorous it would have been nice to see a few more. The club obviously expected quite a few more then that because they opened the North Stand, something that looked a little bit foolish given that it had no more than 500-600 people in it.
I don't want to read too much into last night though because it only a slight step up from a pre-season game. With no disrespect to Peterborough, who gave it a good go, they were far worse than anything we'll be facing in the league this season and it would have been impossible for our defence's concentration levels to be as tuned as they would be in a Premier League match. Likewise as impressive as our forwards were, they'll be facing much stiffer challenges in the coming months.
Never the less it was a good chance to get a little cup run going and a win is a win. We've now got nearly three weeks until Tottenham visit the Madejski Stadium and we can all go into the break on the back of a win.