It makes a change I suppose to say that Cardiff City departed a cup competition in a game they had a right good go at winning, but, even so, it must be said that the manner of their dismissal from the FA Cup tonight was typical of their season.
Two up early in the second half, they allowed Reading to score twice to force the extra time which always seemed inevitable and then after they hit the front again in the first period of the additional thirty minutes, they again couldn’t see things out, so the tie went to the equally inevitable penalty shoot out.
We can all remember the three dramatic shoot outs (two won and one lost) that were highlights of our 2012 league Cup campaign – Leicester, which finished up at something like 11-10, the thrill of making it to a fourth Wembley date in four years to see off Palace and the heartbreak of losing the Cup after a great fight against Liverpool which included the unforgettable Ben Turner equaliser, but I’m afraid Cardiff v Reading 2020 will only be recalled in any list discussion about the most anti climactic penalty shoot outs ever.
The, very, abridged version of how the shoot out panned out is that Reading went first and scored easily from their four attempts, while we took three, one of which just about made it in, while another was smashed against the crossbar and another was easily saved.
To add a bit more detail, Will Vaulks, who was good otherwise, was the villain when it came to the spot kick whacked against the bar, while, bafflingly, Aden Flint was the choice to take our first attempt in the mini competition which forced a decision in a tie which probably would have gone on for weeks in the days where sides just kept playing replays until there was, finally, a winner.
Credit to Flint for volunteering to take a penalty, but was anyone really surprised at what happened? I’m sure Danny Gabbidon on Radio Wales wasn’t the only one who was saying they weren’t a fan of centre halves taking penalties once it became clear who was stepping forward.
Such a damp squib of an ending was harsh on City in many ways because their performance showed that, perhaps, the much talked about change of approach under the new manager may not be quite as demanding a task as many expect it to be.
City, with Academy team captain Joel Bagan enjoying a polished first team debut at left back until he was hit by cramp, played some nice stuff in dominating a first half where it could be said they were worth more than the single goal scored by Josh Murphy after Reading had been sloppy in playing out from the back.
Murphy’s low shot from not far short of twenty five yards was the clearest evidence of a far better contribution from the team’s wingers than the one we saw four days earlier when the sides last met, but both he and Gavin Whyte prospered on the back of a better than expected service from Vaulks and Marlon Pack which must have come as a shock when it was seen that that they were up against three opponents in the middle of the park.
Reading reacted by changing their shape to the something like 4-4-2 that we had started with and while they soon went 2-0 when a lovely, outside of the foot pass by Vaulks picked out Robert Glatzel who went on to net in a manner which suggests he’s got the ability to score consistently for us with a service which suits him more, they improved after that with City’s defensive work being undermined by a lessening of its denial of room from which crosses could come in. Omar Richards’ powerful near post header got the visitors back into things and sub Rinamhota levelled things with a snap shot which flew past Neil Etheridge before he could move.
Reading would have had momentum going extra time, but City, with Tom Sang doing well on his debut after he was introduced for Whyte, had the better of things for most of the remainder of the match. They were ahead again when blunders by defenders Blackett and Oshi gave Murphy the chance to nip in before keeper Walker and make it 3-2.
When Reading had got back their two goal deficit, it could be claimed that they were suggesting that a goal was coming, but City were looking pretty safe at 3-2 when Meite got his third goal against us within the space of eight days from nowhere with another snap shot type finish to set up that non event of a shoot out.