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Reading’s league campaign isn’t going exactly as planned and far from fighting for a play-off place once again, the Royals find themselves just five points above the relegation zone and stumbling through some pretty poor form. Indeed Jaap Stam’s men have failed to register a single win in their last eight competitive outings with their last victory coming against rock-bottom side Sunderland and the Royals boss will be eager to avoid another upset in the FA Cup when they once again go head-to-head with League Two outfit Stevenage tonight.
The original third-round tie between these two sides ended all-square with neither team managing to find the back of the net in a match in which Reading were on the back foot for much of the ninety minutes. Indeed while Stevenage sit fifteenth in League Two, they dominated for lengthy periods with the Championship side’s only real on-target effort in the first half coming just before the break, Dave Edward’s header being adequately dealt with by on-loan keeper Tom King.
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Stevenage certainly fashioned the better opportunities to beat the Championship side in the original tie and in all honesty, we don’t believe that their chances of such an upset have been blown just yet. Darren Sarll’s men have been far from impressive on their travels this term but their confidence will doubtless have been boosted by the manner in which they dealt with the Royals in their last meeting and we don’t believe that they will be daunted by the prospect of visiting a Reading side which have been extremely poor of late.
Reading will nevertheless fancy their chances in front of their home fans tonight and they will be disappointed were they to stumble against Stevenage again, however they are extremely easy to oppose at the odds available and with survival in the second-tier clearly the main aim for manager Jaap Stam, it is perfectly reasonable to expect a few key players to be given a rest tonight.
Reading’s main problem has been creating chances and they were hardly threatening against Stevenage in the original tie with a mere two shots on target throughout. We expect Reading to perform better on home soil, however an improved display is not guaranteed and if the visitors can remain disciplined this evening, then an upset wouldn’t be a huge shock at all.
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