News and Views

Stam Hopes FA Cup Provides Some Respite

05 January 2018
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading take a welcome break from a hugely disappointing Championship campaign so far with a Saturday afternoon trip to Stevenage in the third round of the FA Cup. 45 league places seperate Reading from their League Two opposition. Some might think this game is ripe for an afternoon of 'giant killing'. Although Stevenage have hardly set League Two alight this season either, and currently sit midtable in 15th place, they have impressive recent home form in both league and cup.

With home advantage and the "magic of the cup" Stevenage will certinaly fancy their chances of progressing to round four after home wins against Nantwich in round one and Swindon Town in round two. Stevenage put five goals past both of those sides in earlier rounds, and their last two home games in the league have also seen big wins - 5-1 over Chesterfield and 4-1 over Cheltenham. With Reading's inability to keep clean sheets you would certainly expect The Boro to find the back of the net at some point. That means Reading are likely to need at least a couple of goals - and that could pose a problem on recent form.

This does seem set to be a difficult fixture for a Reading side hugely low in confidence. Confidence in the Reading manager is also at an all time low with things swinging against Jaap Stam, and the majority of fans now calling for a change in management. It may only be the FA Cup, and Stam is likely to field a changed and potentially weakened side, but another defeat against lower league opposition could be the hammering in of one of the final nails. Stam needs a victory. Any victory will do as Stam looks to the FA Cup to save the season and his tattered managerial reputation.

Recent form and weaker opposition on paper, will see Stam rest players who have featured in recent defeats. Hopefully some of the younger players will get a chance to be involved and see if they can turn the fortunes of the club around. Dramatic changes to the starting eleven would only be a good thing, and hopefully Stam can accept he may need to try different tactics against Stevenage.

The 0-2 home defeat against bottom side Birmingham on Tuesday was actually comparable to Reading's last match against Stevenage. That game, six years ago at the Madejski Stadium also in the FA Cup third round, was also a hugely disappointing performance from the Royals. Reading were dumped out of the FA Cup 0-1 by a superior Stevenage side on the day. They'll be hoping to repeat that success this weekend.


Recent Meetings With Stevenage

07 January 2012 FA Cup Stevenage (HOME) L: 0-1 Read report...
29 January 2011 FA Cup Stevenage (Away) W: 2-1 Read report...

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