Palace edge past Reading to progress through to Wembley semi-final

Palace edge past Reading to progress through to Wembley semi-final
Image credit: VAVEL (Jonny Walsh)
0 2
Crystal Palace
Reading: Al-Habsi; Gunter, McShane, Cooper, Obita; Hector, Norwood, Quinn; Robson-Kanu, John, Cox (Vydra, min. 60)
Crystal Palace: Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Bolasie, Cabaye, Jedinak, Ledley, Zaha; Adebayor

Thanks for following VAVEL UK's Live coverage of Reading - Crystal Palace. I've been Sam Smith, stay tuned for the match report. 

Palace left it late, but Crystal Palace are going to Wembley to play in the semi-final of the FA Cup for the first time since 1995. Reading fought well but Pardew's side's quality eventually won them the game. 


More on goal: Excellent trickery for Zaha gets him into the box, he passes to Zaha who threads a wonderful first-time pass into Campbell. The striker's shot is originally saved but he smashes the ball home from a yard out from the rebound!


90: Four-minutes added on. 

90: Rakels replaces Obita for Reading. Fraizer Campbell also replaces Bolasie, who has had a terrific game.

89: Jedinak takes a booking for bringing down Williams as Reading break away.

88: Off the bar! Bolasie crashes the crossbar with an excellent effort! Almost 2-0!

More on goal: Cabaye's penalty is soft and Al-Habsi gets a hand to the ball- but it trickles into the net and Palace have the lead! Four minutes puls injury time to hang on!


85: RED CARD! Bolasie is brought down when through on goal and Cooper is sent-off. Cabaye to take...


83: It's Sako who takes, instead of Cabaye, but his shot is deflected away. 

83: Free-kick in a promising position for Palace as Obita pushes Zaha to the floor. Cabaye's free-kicks have been dangerous so far, what can he produce here?

81: Bolasie mis-hits a shot from Souare's cross. Game starting to open up now since the introduction of Sako. 

79: Crystal Palace substitution: Bakary Sako replaces Ledley. 

75: Reading substitution: Danny Williams replaces Norwood. 

71: John sees an audacious effort from range curl just past the post. 

69: Another good save! Cabaye's free-kick is goal-bound but once again, the magnificent Al-Habsi is equal to the effort. 

68: Palace now have a free-kick right on the edge of the area as Cooper brings down Zaha. The Reading defender is also booked by Dean.

66: Half-chance for Reading this time at Stephen Quinn has a deflected effort well held by Hennessey.

63: Chance for Palace! Zaha breaks away, gives the ball to Bolasie who pulls it back for Adebayor, whose shot from 18-yards is deflected away for a corner. Cabaye's set piece is cleared but Palace now have another corner after pin-ball in the box is cleared eventually by Reading.

62: Bolasie harshly booked as he goes to close down Obita on the right-hand touchline. 

60: Norwood's free-kick hits the wall and Palace have a free-kick of their own as McShane is adjudged to have fouled Hennessey.

60: Delaney penalised for a foul on the edge of the Palace penalty area. Meanwhile, Cox is replaced by Vydra as Reading look to take the lead. 

58: Yellow cards for Gunter and Zaha after they exchange words and a few pushes. 

55: Off the line now! Oliver Norwood clears off the line!

55: What a save! Jedinak powerfully heads towards goal but Al-Habsi - who's having a fantastic game - gets a strong palm to the ball.

48: Free-kick in a good opportunity for Palace following a foul by Cooper. Cabaye takes but McShane heads calmly back to his goalkeeper. 

47: Souare gets away from Gunter and puts a cross into the box, but it's held Al-Habsi.

HT: Teams are back out on the pitch and Palace are ready to restart the game. 

HT: We'll be back for the second-half. Thanks for following so far. 

HT: Palace have been the better side but Reading have defended extremely well. Ledley, Bolasie and Adebayor have all had the best chances for the Eagles but John had the Royals' best chance when he somehow hit the side netting, albeit from a tight angle. The longer McDermott's side hang on, the more chance they have of getting a good result. 

45+1: Half-time.

45: One-minute to be added on to a pulsating first-half.

44: How has Ledley missed?! Bolasie has a shot palmed away by Al-Habsi and Ledley puts the rebound over the bar from close-range. Palace should be ahead. 

43: Close! Cabaye improvises a shot with the outside of his foot and it misses Al-Habsi's goal by inches. 

42: Hennessey drops a looping ball and John somehow hits the side netting from a tight angle! Great chance for Reading who have enjoyed a few chances in recent minutes.

38: Best chance for Reading as a cross finds John, but his shot is deflected behind for a corner. 

37: Stephen Quinn has a shot from distance but he slices the ball and it travels well wide of Hennessey's goal.

35: Adebayor goes through on goal but McShane gets back to make an excellent challenge and Al-Habsi saves well. Another excellent chance for the Eagles.

33: Delaney outmuscled by Cox as Reading attack but the forward's final ball is poor and Palace have a throw. 

32: Bolasie hits the side-netting again as he cuts inside from the left. Very good start from Palace so far. Reading coping well, however. 

31: Yellow card! Hector booked for bringing down Bolasie as Palace look to break away.

30: Reading have a free-kick of their own but Jedinak clears.

28: Chance! Bolasie turns and hits a half-volley from close-range but the ball hits the side netting. Palace hans thought they had scored.

28: Good save Al-Habsi! Cabaye opts to shoot from the free-kick but the Omani 'keeper beats it away for a corner.

27: Hector now penalised for a high foot on Jedinak as they challenge for a high ball. Palace have a free-kick in a dangerous position around 35-yards out.

27: Hector wins the header from the corner but Hennessey claims with a fair amount of ease.

26: Reading counter-attack from the corner and they win their first corner of the game as Delaney blocks a cross behind.

24: Excellent break from Zaha, who exchanges passes with Bolasie, and sees his shot blocked away for another corner. Zaha the best player so far. 

21: Referee, Mike Dean, is allowing the game to flow really well. Feisty affair so far. 

20: Another corner for Palace as McShane turns it behind for a corner under pressure from Bolasie.

19: Zaha flashes a cross cross goal but no one is there to tap home! Great chance!

16: Testing cross from Bolasie is cleared by McShane for a throw. Pape Souare whips a cross in and more nervous defending from Reading sees Palace have a corner, which is cleared and Reading have a free-kick for a foul by Mile Jedinak.

14: Excellent turn of pace from John to get past Joel Ward but the winger takes too many touches and the full-back gets back. Reading now have a free-kick in a threatening position. Headed away by Ledley.

12: Uncertaintly in the Reading box from the corner leads to Adebayor heading down to Damien Delaney, but the ball does not reach the Irishman and Reading have a goal kick. 

10: Gunter turns a cross behind for a Palace corner.

07: good cross by Robson-Kanu causes a slight mix-up in the Palace box before Dann clears. Cox then dramatically goes over as Dann clears the second ball.

04: Reading are playing a 4-1-4-1 formation with Michael Hector in a holding midfield role and Simon Cox as the lone striker. Palace are 4-4-1-1 with Bolasie just behind Adebayor and Joe Ledley in an inside-left position. 

02: Early burst of pace from Yannick Bolasie almost sees him carve open an early chance for Zaha, but Jake Cooper pushes the Congolese winger wide

01: Kick-off!

Teams in the tunnel prepared to walk out. Five minutes until kick-off.

Both managers appear to want to play attacking football tonight. Should be a good game in front of a capacity 24-thousand crowd. Stay tuned!

Matej Vydra, who was a pre-match doubt, also returns - making the bench for Reading.

Jason Puncheon returns from injury for Palace, having missed the last six weeks through a hamstring injury, and is also on the bench.

Key team news: Reading captain Paul McShane faces the club he spent time on loan at in the 2011/12 season and Alex McCarthy returns to the club where he started his career, albeit starting on the bench for Palace. 

Crystal Palace substitutes: McCarthy, Kelly, Puncheon, Mutch, Sako, Campbell, Gayle

Crystal Palace starting XI: Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Bolasie, Cabaye, Jedinak, Ledley, Zaha; Adebayor

Reading substitutes: Bond, Vydra, McCleary, Rakels, Ferdinand, Piazon, Williams

Reading starting XI: Al-Habsi; Gunter, McShane, Cooper, Obita; Hector, Norwood, Quinn; Robson-Kanu, John, Cox

Kick-off at Madejski stadium is just under two hours away. I, Sam Smith, will have plenty of build-up for you in the meantime, including team news and pre-match comments.

The last meeting came at Reading’s Madejski stadium in April 2012 when a 2-2 draw clinched the Royals’ place in the Premier League, however, they were subsequently relegated the following May. Palace were promoted to the top-flight that very same month, thanks to victory over Watford in the play-off final. Overall, 80 matches have been played between the two clubs; Reading have edged Palace on 30 occasions, while the Eagles have won 25.

Multiple players and managers have represented both clubs; the obvious example being current Palace manager, Pardew, who has managed both sides. Legendary Eagles manager, Steve Coppell, is highly thought of among Reading fans, having guided the club to promotion in 2006 before securing safety with ease the following season. Player links include John Oster, Glenn Murray, Jimmy Kebe, Jobi McAnuff, Stephen Hunt, current Palace goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, and current Reading defender, Paul McShane.

Pardew commented on his link with Reading in his pre-match press conference, saying “I’ve never had a great reception at Reading,” but admitted that it was understandable given the way he left to join West Ham in 2003.

The Royals have vast Premier League experience in their squad, which helped them beat West Brom in the previous round, and will no doubt aid a possible victory against Palace. Home grown talent, Jordan Obita, has impressed having settled into a left-back role over the last few seasons, while captain McShane has been a key member of the back four. However, Palace will fear winger Ola John the most. The on-loan Benfica man was a reported target for Pardew in the summer, but the Palace boss opted to sign Bakary Sako instead, and John will seek to prove that it was the wrong decision. The 23-year-old has three goals this season – including a sensational long-range strike in their recent defeat to Huddersfield – and possesses great pace and trickery.

Palace have an ever-growing injury list which includes the likes of James McArthur and Connor Wickham, but Pardew will be boosted by the return of midfielder Jason Puncheon who suffered an injury in the defeat to Bournemouth at the beginning of February. Should Puncheon feature, the Palace boss will hope his number 42 will improve on a disappointing start to the season, which saw him struggle to continue his form from the previous season. However, Emmanuel Adebayor is the player who Palace should turn to in order to win the tie. The Togolese striker turned down a recent international call-up to prevent being away from the Palace squad during the current predicament and his experience in leading the attack will be important. Adebayor has largely failed to impress since his arrival in January and has the chance to place himself into Palace folklore with a match-winning performance against Reading.

Adebayor will be the key man for Palace | Photo: Getty images
Adebayor will be the key man for Palace | Photo: Getty images

Reading’s McShane and Hal Robson-Kanu missed their midweek defeat to Huddersfield through injury, but are expected to return at Madejski stadium. Matej Vydra is the Royals’ only doubt for the game, having been carrying a hamstring problem, while George Evans and Yann Kermorgant are both cup-tied having featured for Walsall and Bournemouth respectively in this season's competition.

Wayne Hennessey is expected to start for Palace, having missed the defeat to Liverpool through injury, while Puncheon also returns having been injured for six weeks. Marouane Chamakh picked up a fresh injury – likely to be his knee – in the under-21’s defeat to their Colchester United counterparts on Monday afternoon, while McArthur and Wickham will once again miss out.

Reading were formed in the same year as the first-ever FA Cup competition was contested – 1874 – and have reached the quarter final stage six times in 129 attempts. Three of those occasions have come under McDermott, and the Reading boss spoke of the importance of the competition in his pre-match press conference, “The FA Cup means an awful lot to this football club,” claimed McDermott, before adding that Reading want to “put on a really good performance” and “see what the outcome is.”

Pardew, on the other hand, was more concise in his ambitions, saying in his press conference, “We have a chance of winning something and that doesn’t come around very often.” 

Reading, with home advantage, currently sit in 19th place in the Championship. A healthy mid-table position, but it’s fair to say Brian McDermott’s side have slightly underperformed this season. The Royals have accumulated nine points from their last seven games, having had an upturn in form since the turn of the year, but were on the wrong end of a 3-1 score line in their previous outing – against Huddersfield Town. Reading needed a replay in the third round of the competition to edge past the Terriers – eventually winning 5-2 – and have gone on to defeat Walsall and West Brom to set up the tie with Palace.

The Eagles have suffered a slump in recent months – a stark contrast to their form in 2015. Alan Pardew’s side have won just three games in 2016; all of which have come in the FA Cup, against SouthamptonStoke City and Tottenham Hotspur. The tie with Reading will be the first time Palace have faced lower league opposition in the competition since they met Dover Athletic in the third round in January 2015. Palace were defeated in cruel circumstances against Liverpool on Sunday and are winless in twelve Premier League outings.

Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK’s live minute-by minute match coverage and commentary. Today, Friday 11th March 2016, sees Sky Bet Championship side Reading host Premier League opposition, Crystal Palace, in the FA Cup quarter final. This evening’s game kicks off at 19:55 GMT, but until then, we’ll have plenty of pre-match build-up and analysis from me, Sam Smith. Be sure to stay following.