MX23RW : Sunday, February 17 12:33:34
Mar 11, 2016 at 7.55pm UK at ​Madejski Stadium
Crystal Palace

Cooper (85')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Cabaye (86' pen.), Campbell (93')

Preview: Reading vs. Crystal Palace

Sports Mole looks ahead to the first FA Cup quarter-final of the weekend between Championship side Reading and Crystal Palace of the Premier League.

Ahead of the draw for the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, this was probably the outcome that both Reading and Crystal Palace wanted.

With the greatest of respect, these two teams would have been the underdogs against the other sides left in the competition. So, at the Madejski Stadium on Friday night, the duo will believe that a place in the last four is there for the taking.


Brian McDermott. manager of Leeds United looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United at Hillsborough Stadium on January 11, 2014© Getty Images

At first glance, Reading's season has been largely unremarkable to date.

After all, Brian McDermott's men are 14th in the Championship table following Tuesday evening's disappointing 3-1 defeat away at Huddersfield Town.

However, it is worth noting that in the last round they dumped out Premier League opposition with a 3-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion - a side that are currently six points better off than Palace.

Not only that, the Royals have not lost a game in any competition at the Madejski in 2016, which dates back nine outings.

Speaking to the club's official website after the Huddersfield game, McDermott said: "You don't want to lose a game 3-1 away from home, but this result will have no bearing on Friday's game whatsoever.

"We're looking forward to a great night on Friday, in front of a full house at the Madejski and there will be plenty of great nights to come."

Reading also have a decent record in the FA Cup over recent times. This will be their third appearance in the quarter-finals in the last six years.

Recent form (all competitions): DWWWDL


Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew salivates during the game at Bournemouth on December 26, 2015© Getty Images

Those of a Palace persuasion will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that such a positive start was made to the campaign.

That is because the Eagles are on a 12-match winless run in the Premier League, which has seen them drop down to 15th position and nine points above the relegation zone.

It seemed that Alan Pardew's men were going to end that negative sequence when Joe Ledley fired them in front against Liverpool at the weekend, only for goals from Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke to seal a 2-1 win for the visiting Merseysiders.

Pardew was left fuming by Liverpool's stoppage-time winner, which came after Benteke was adjudged to have been upended inside the area by Damien Delaney, leaving the Belgian to calmly roll in the resultant spot kick.

Yet, the FA Cup has at least provided the South Londoners with some solace. They have beaten Southampton, Stoke City and title-chasing Tottenham Hotspur - all sides in the top half - en route to this stage of the tournament.

Palace can also take further confidence from the fact that they have won five of their last six away FA Cup ties.

They have not reached the semi-finals since 1995 when they were defeated in a replay by Manchester United - the same opposition that had beaten them in the final five years earlier.

Recent form (all competitions): DLWLDL

Team News

Jason Puncheon of Crystal Palace in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Aston Villa at Selhurst Park on August 22, 2015 © Getty Images

Palace have been without winger Jason Puncheon since the middle of February, but he could be back in contention for this clash.

However, goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is still an injury doubt, which may see Julian Speroni make a rare appearance between the posts.

A thigh injury will keep out Connor Wickham, who has scored Palace's last four goals away from home.

Reading also have a concern over a striker of their own in the form of Matej Vydra. The Czech has not played since the win over West Brom because of a hamstring problem.

Simon Cox is the back-up option, while Hal Robson-Kanu and Paul McShane should return to the side.

Reading possible starting lineup:
Al Habsi; Gunter, McShane, Cooper, Taylor; McCleary, Williams, Hector, Piazon; Cox, Robson-Kanu

Palace possible starting lineup:
Speroni; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Zaha, Jedinak, Cabaye, Ledley, Bolasie; Adebayor

Head To Head

These two sides have not met since April 2012, when Wilfried Zaha was on target for Palace in a 2-2 draw.

In fact, the last three games between the pair have ended all square.

They last faced off in the FA Cup in 1952 and it was Palace that prospered 3-1 in a replay after the original tie had finished 1-1.

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We say: Reading 1-1 Crystal Palace

With plenty riding on the outcome of this game, it could well end up being a tight and cagey affair. There might be a division between the two sides, but with the crowd in their favour, things should even themselves up for Reading. It would not be a surprise if this one went to a replay.

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Alex McCarthy of Crystal Palace during the 2015 Cape Town Cup Final match between Crystal Palace FC and Sporting Lisbon at Cape Town Stadium on July 26, 2015
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