Report: Reading 0 Stevenage 1

Darius Charles scores the only goal as Boro book Fourth Round place

Reading 0 Stevenage 1

FA Cup Third Round

Last year it was Newcastle United, this season it is Reading – oh how Stevenage like to punish teams who punish them in the FA Cup.

And while this may not have the same resonance as that win over the Magpies at the Lamex last year, this revenge job against the side that knocked Boro out of last season’s competition will have pleased Stevenage’s players just as much.

In last season’s game against the Royals Darius Charles scored in a 2-1 defeat. This time, he scored the winner. And although it was a deflected shot which wrong-footed Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici it will feel every bit as beautiful a finish to the striker as that sublime effort last year.

Lawrie Wilson started the game in the middle of the park as Boro employed a 4-3-3 with Charles the spearhead, and it was the aforementioned Wilson who forced the first save of the match two minutes in.

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Luke Freeman ran up the left, shaking off Jobi McAnuff far too easily, and when the wide man crossed along the 18-yard box both Charles and Joel Byrom left the ball before Beardsley teed up Wilson whose low drive from 20 yards forced Federici into a good save, full stretch, to palm the ball out for a corner.

A minute later and it was Reading’s Simon Church’s turn to try his luck, his effort from 18 yards deflecting out for a corner which Jon Ashton cleared.

Charles had been brought into this game after a series of niggling injuries had disrupted his Christmas and he made it two in two against the Royals with the opener some 20 minutes into this game.

Scott Laird was the provider, shrugging McAnuff off the ball on the left before stroking the ball to Charles. The striker powered his way goalwards and just outside the box hit a shot which took a deflection off Kaspars Gorkss to wrong-foot Federici for the lead.

Boro had Reading on the ropes and continued to get bodies forward, and Byrom almost doubled their lead only for his crisp, clean volley from 20 yards to sneak just wide of the post.

Boro were creating the better of the chances but it looked as if Charles had used his allocation of luck up for the first goal when he missed a golden opportunity to extend his side’s lead with 10 minutes to go until the break.

Wilson took control of a Chris Day ball down the right and hooked a cross into the Reading box. Charles and Alex Pearce went for the header, the ball bounced to the ground and Charles could only scoop it over the crossbar from all of five yards.

The start of the second half saw Reading on the front foot, and just three minutes in Day had to save from Adam Le Fondre after the striker hit a volley at goal from 25 yards.

The hosts had come out with an urgency but their forays forward were often repelled by a resolute Stevenage rearguard not for the first time this season protected by Byrom and Bostwick in midfield.

Both teams had wonderful chances within five minutes of each other midway through the second half to hit the net. Firstly, with only Day to beat from eight yards, substitute Michaeil Antonio hit a woeful volley wide.

And then five minutes later Freeman did well to get into the Reading box before teeing up Wilson who headed goalwards only for Federici to pluck the ball up from his feet on the goalline.

Despite having plenty of possession, Reading struggled to create the chances and it was Stevenage who should have scored again but Federici was there to deny Wilson with an amazing stop.

Substitute Robin Shroot had broken down the left and he set up Wilson whose low effort from 20 yards looked destined for the back of the net. Federici, though, thought differently and got down low, and extremely well, to stop the ball.

But in the end it mattered little. For all of their possession, Reading failed like so many teams to break Boro down.

Another victory. Another clean sheet. And another FA Cup Fourth Round game to come.

Reading (4-4-2): Federici, Pearce, Cummings, Harte, Gorkss, Leigertwood (Antonio 52), Robson-Kanu, Tabb, McAnuff, Church, le Fondre (Manset 64). Subs not used: Gunnarsson, Morrison, Mills, Andersen, D’Ath.

Stevenage (4-3-3): Day, Henry, Laird, Roberts, Ashton, Wilson, Freeman (Harrison, 71), Bostwick, Byrom, Beardsley (Edwards 90), Charles (Shroot, 82). Subs: Julian, Long, Harrison, Cowan, Thalassitis.

Att: 11,295 (1826)