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FA Cup | Second Round
Dec 3, 2023 at 1.30pm UK
Silverlake Stadium
Reading logo
2 - 1
McCallum (22', 90+4')
Langston (9'), Taylor (23'), McCallum (35'), Maguire (88')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Azeez (86')
Savage (29'), Mola (54'), Mbengue (81'), Dean (89')

Preview: Eastleigh vs. Reading - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's FA Cup clash between Eastleigh and Reading, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Eastleigh of the National League welcome an improving Reading side to the Silverlake Stadium in the FA Cup second round on Sunday.

The Royals had been enduring a torturous campaign, but manager Ruben Selles is showing signs of turning things around at Reading.

Match preview

Southampton manager Ruben Selles pictured on April 21, 2023© Reuters

After dropping into the third tier for the first time in 30 years, Reading have played in three domestic cup competitions this season, but that is where virtually all of their success has come from.

Reading are into the EFL Trophy knockout rounds and were only beaten on penalties by Championship high-flyers Ipswich Town in the EFL Cup, after winning 4-0 away at Millwall.

Scoring 19 goals in their three EFL Trophy group games was a new competition record and made even more remarkable when you consider it took them 18 league games to reach the same tally.

Exeter City were humiliated 9-0, before Reading plundered five past both Swindon Town and Arsenal Under-21s to top their section.

Selles's side then saw off MK Dons 3-2 in the first round of this competition, to set up a tie with non-league opposition.

In a 13-game spell between mid-September to mid-November, Reading's only four wins came in respective cup competitions, as they took just two points from their nine league games in that time.

However, form has picked up in the league with back-to-back wins over Wycombe Wanderers and Carlisle United to move them off the bottom and only five points adrift of safety, when they looked in a perilous position just a few weeks ago.

Reading's upturn in form and their astonishing cup results this season will have Richard Hill slightly nervous, as he aims to take Eastleigh into the third round of the FA Cup for the first time.

After seeing off Dover Athletic in qualifying, the Spitfires thrashed Boreham Wood 5-1 in the first round last month, exacting revenge on the club that had remarkably knocked them out at the same stage of the last two seasons.

This is just their third appearance in the second round, and against Stockport County in 2014 and Crewe Alexandra in 2019, Eastleigh came up short.

A strong run of form in the National League has followed their first-round success though, breeding confidence that they can make history, as another win against Boreham Wood followed, as well as a draw with Oldham Athletic and a 2-1 success over Altrincham.

Hill's men were defeated by leaders Chesterfield last weekend but fought resolutely, despite going 3-0 down to get two late goals and almost complete an unlikely comeback.

Eastleigh remain five points adrift of the playoffs, but their recent form suggests that gap could be closed in the coming weeks if they keep up their results of late.

Eastleigh FA Cup form:
  • W
  • W

Eastleigh form (all competitions):

Reading FA Cup form:

Reading form (all competitions):

Team News

Eastleigh's inspiration for a cup shock will likely come from National League top scorer Paul McCallum, whose extraordinary form this season continued with scoring the winner against Altrincham, and both goals against Boreham Wood in their league encounter recently.

The attacker was rested in the first round, but he is almost certain to come in here, considering he has scored 16 goals in 17 league games, making him far and away the division's leading marksman.

New signing Ryan Clampin returned from injury to make a brief cameo off the bench, but Aaron Martin and former EFL veteran Chris Maguire are both set to miss out.

The latter's absence is a big blow, considering he scored seven goals in eight starts prior to his recent injury.

Selles could be tempted to bring in some of the youth players that have impressed across all three cup competitions this season.

Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan has been superb in the cups, scoring six goals in four appearances across all three competitions, and he is likely to start having only been a sub for most of the season in the league.

Dominic Ballard is their joint-top scorer in League One with just three goals, despite Reading having scored 22, but he is a doubt for this game, along with Mamadi Camara.

Ovie Ejaria is set to miss out too, and defender Tom McIntyre is also ruled out with the injury he picked up in September.

Eastleigh possible starting lineup:
McDonnell; Francillette, Langston, Harris, Hodson; Rutherford, Taylor, Atangana, Boldewijn; Quigley, McCallum

Reading possible starting lineup:
Joel Pereira; Yiadom, Bindon, Abbey, Carson; Elliott, Wing, Craig, Mukairu; Ehibhatiomhan, Knibbs

SM words green background

We say: Eastleigh 2-3 Reading

Both sides have been involved in some thrilling recent encounters packed with goals, and it should be a competitive cup tie, despite the difference in league positions.

Reading have reserved their best performances for the cups though, and after also finding some league form of late, they will fancy themselves to progress here.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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