Goals from Paul McShane, Michael Hector and Lucas Piazon earned Reading a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup thanks to a surprise 3-1 comeback victory over West Brom on Saturday.
Having lost to eventual winners Arsenal at the semi-final stage last season, Reading are enjoying another strong Cup run in 2015-16, providing a highlight amid a stuttering Championship campaign.
After a first half low on goalmouth action at the Madejski Stadium, the game sprung into life early in the second period with two goals in five minutes.
West Brom’s Darren Fletcher – a winner of this competition with Manchester United in 2004 – opened the scoring with a well-taken angled drive, adding to his stunning goal in the replay against Peterborough United in the previous round.
But Reading responded swiftly and McShane – who featured from the bench for Hull City in the final against Arsenal two years ago – headed in from a set-piece to claim his first goal for Reading.
And it got even better for Brian McDermott’s side as, 18 minutes from time, Hector glanced a header home at the far post before substitute Piazon added the third in stoppage time to condemn their Premier League opponents to a surprise exit.
In a quiet opening to proceedings, the only effort of note came in the 12th minute when Chris Brunt – selected as one of two changes for West Brom – fired a 30-yard free-kick comfortably over the crossbar.
Reading’s first attempt at goal midway through the half came from an unlikely source as McShane fizzed a shot agonisingly wide of the right-hand post from just outside the box.
The home side threatened again seven minutes prior to half-time as Oliver Norwood whipped in a cross for Hal Robson-Kanu, who saw his header tipped over by Ben Foster.
James McClean fired wildly off target from 20 yards as Tony Pulis’ men began the second half brightly and they were rewarded with the opening goal in the 54th minute.
From the right touchline, Salomon Rondon played a low ball into Fletcher just inside the area and the Scotland international made the most of the generous space afforded to him by controlling and dispatching a clinical finish into the bottom-left corner.
However, the lead lasted just five minutes as Norwood sent in an inviting free-kick from the left and McShane glanced in a header from six yards despite the best efforts of Foster, who got a hand to the ball, but could only parry it into the roof of the net.
And it was another excellent Norwood delivery that allowed Reading to forge ahead as the midfielder curled in a cross towards the back post and Hector got the better of Jonas Olsson to nod in from close range.
West Brom missed two glorious chances to force a replay with five minutes remaining as first Saido Berahino failed to get a clean connection on a ball across the six-yard box and then Fletcher poked a tame finish straight at Ali Al-Habsi when unmarked at close range.
With the final action of the game, Piazon was teed up by fellow replacement Ola John, composing himself before rifling past Foster to seal Reading’s place in the last eight.
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