The Reds made it through to the next round of the League Cup although not without a scare at a rain soaked Anfield last night. The Reds deserved the win on the night although made it hard for themselves when they let Reading back in to the game late on which led to a nervy ending.
Robbie Fowler came back in to the side and captained the Reds. There were debuts given to Paletta and Peltier at the back whilst the bench also saw three other kids on the bench which is a good sign.
Reading got the game underway at Anfield attacking the Kop end in the first half. It wasn't exactly the most inspiring of starts though from either side as they both cancelled each other out. In fact it was twelve minutes before a save was made and it was Reading keeper Graham Stack who got down well at his near post to save from Sissoko who had broken in to the area unchallenged.
Lee Peltier was forced to leave the pitch with a blood injury just after the quarter hour mark. He seemed to be gone for an age getting treatment but did eventually arrive back on twenty one minutes. Whilst Peltier was off the pitch Jermaine Pennant filled in at full back but was clearly uncomfortable in this position based on how many times he gestured to the bench about what was going on.
The Reds were on top in the centre of midfield with Sissoko and Zenden breaking most play up. Zenden forced Stack in to a save on the half hour but the game needed a spark.
That spark came on forty three minutes when Pennant slipped a ball through to Fowler who duly lobbed a volley over Stack and in to the back of the net. Two minutes later and it got even better when John Arne Riise shot from the edge of the area. His first shot was punched straight back to him and he made no mistake with the second. All of a sudden a tight game was heavily tipped to the Reds.
The two sides came back out after the half tie interval without making changes. One thing on my mind was to get a third and maybe fourth goal and get more kids out there for experience.
The half was just four minutes old when the Reds were three up as well when debutant Gabriel Paletta scored with a header off a corner.
The Reds started to really dominate the game now and Reading started to look weary as the Reds brushed past them time after time. Jermaine Pennant was looking more confident in using his pace and skill to get past his man. Fowler was making some great runs up front and the chances were starting to flow. Zenden had two efforts deflected for corners before Fowler broke clear only to skew his shot past the far post.
Just after the hour mark Momo Sissoko was taken off for a rest and Danny Guthrie was brought on for his debut in a Reds shirt. Although the lad had a nervy start he soon settled down and played quite well and put in some great defence splitting balls.
Lee Peltier another young debutant on the night was subbed on seventy three minutes. Peltier had done really well at right back throughout the game. His replacement was another of the former academy players Jay Smith. He slotted in to right back but within a minute the game was turned on its head a bit. Smith missed a tackle and then Paletta took the man down. Paletta saw yellow and from the resultant free kick Reading scored. Bikey rose well at the back post and headed home although Riise could have jumped a bit more to try and put him off it has to be said.
The Reds though reacted to the goal by scoring again. They put a good move together which saw Crouch and Fowler link up well. Fowler put Crouch through and after forcing the keeper in to a dive he danced around him and slotted in to the empty net. Reading were furious at the goal as one of their men went down as Crouch raced through but the goal stood and it was comfortable again.
Dirk Kuyt was taken on for John Arne Riise for the final twelve minutes in what looked a very attacking side. Within a couple of minutes though Reading scored again when Lita slotted home after a scramble in the area. The Reds had the ball half cleared but then missed tackle after tackle before Lita slotted in.
On eighty four minutes the Reds were un done again and a cross from their left was stood up to the back post where any one of three players was unmarked. Shane Long it was who was nearest the ball and he headed home to make a tight finish.
The Reds actually hit the bar in the final minutes through Kuyt and an offside Fowler followed it up by lobbing Stack only to see his attempt bobble along the bar.
The four extra minutes of time at the end of the half seemed to take a while I must admit with the Reds bringing on the nerves themselves. They managed to hold on long enough though and did survive one mad scramble in the box late on.
At the end of the match the Reds are through and on the balance of the game deservedly so. The scoreline flattered Reading but we do know how to make things difficult for ourselves. There's a lot of positives to come from the game such as how much we created. Pennant visibly grew in confidence as the game went on and beat his man on the outside which was a joy to watch. Fowler played superbly up front whilst there were two good debuts for the kids in Peltier and Guthrie.
MotM : Robbie Fowler - played really well up front, worked hard, captained well and scored a great Fowler goal.