Captain Joe leads the Royal revolt

Last updated : 04 January 2009 By Michael Morris
Dave Jones took no chances and played his strongest side. Ross McCormack and Peter Whittingham came in for the departed Chopra and Routledge and those players who thought they might get a game, the likes of Purse, McPhail, Scimeca, Comminges, Heaton, Blake and Capaldi, all started on the bench. (You can name 7 subs in the FA Cup - but still only use 3.)

Steve Coppell did his usual tinkering with his cup team, despite his comments pre match about it's importance and his will to win, his post match comments about priorities lying elsewhere summed up his ambivilance towards the competition. A shame for the Reading fans really who will have seen Cardiff make the final last year and wonder why Coppell, a man who has FA Cup winners medals in his collection, treats it with such low regard.

It meant a lot to Cardiff fans to see Joe Ledley lead the team out. There was a fear that Joe would have a convenient injury to stop him being cup tied and so affecting his sale value this month. We might still lose him but so far the signs are that he's happy to still be playing for us, and playing well. Giving him the captaincy a month ago was a masterstroke from Jones.

Since Steve McPhail got sent off at Swansea and lost his place in the team Joe took over the skippers job and we've played 7 games, winning 5 and narrowly drawing the other two (both of which we should have won). Ledley's more agressive and direct attacking play from central midfield has paid dividends with the results proof of this.

So on a freezing cold January afternoon the dreams of Wembley again wafted over Ninian Park. The FA Cup means so much to millions of football fans the world over, but for us an appearance in the final is still fresh in the memory. From that point it was a little disappointing to only get a crowd of 12448, the cold and the cost will surely have something to do with it but we took nearly 70,000 people to Wembley in two visits last year, they can't all have been busy yesterday.

City had a couple of decent penalty shouts turned down first half, one a stonewall handball from defender Andre Bikey. Reading spurned the best chance of the half when a shot from 10 yards was sliced wide.

The second half, as it got colder and colder, sprung to life when Ross McCormack burst through midfideld, he was cynically scythed down by Bikey (he was sent off back in November at Ninian Park), and City had a free kick. When the kick was taken Reading ran out trying to catch the City players offside but Roger Johnson timed his move to perfection and found himself alone at the back post without a Reading defender anywhere near him. Thankfully he used his head (to think) and instead of blasting the ball at the goal he cleverly crossed for the incoming Ross McCormack to head past the stranded Federici.

City were looking comfortable with Reading causing slight worries but Lita, back from a loan spell at Norwich, disappointing for the visitors. Cardiff looked to get a 2nd goal and were nearly gifted one when Federici sliced a clearance and that would have made it onto an "Own goals and gaffs" dvd if it had gone in, Whittingham had an effort deflected onto the bar, McCormack's mazy run ended with a shot wide of the post and another Whittingham effort was blocked by a brave defender.

It was left to Joe Ledley to put the icing on the cake. Steve McPhail, on as a sub passed to Joe, he played a one two with McCormack as they sliced straight through the Reading defence, Joe delicately slipped the ball past the Reading keeper and it was 2 - 0, game over, and no way back for Reading this time.

Federici had no reason to leave his goal for any last minute heroics, Reading were comfortably beaten, Cardiff are into the hat for round 4 and the Wembley dream lives on.