The Royals season hit a new low as we were dumped out of the Carling Cup by League Two side Northampton, despite leading three times in the match. The game ended 3-3 After Extra Time before Simon Church and Jake Taylor missed in the penalty shoot out to give the Cobblers a 4-2 victory.
It`s fair to say that this season has not gone to plan so far as we remained winless in the league, and only managed to beat Torquay after extra time in the first round of the Carling Cup. Round two though, a home tie with Northampton, was supposed to be our opportunity to kick start things. However all it did was sink us even lower and left just under 7,000 fans at the Madejski Stadium bitterly disappointed.
Brian McDermott selected a stronger than expected side with the likes of Matt Mills, Marcus Williams, Brian Howard and Jem Karacan all keeping their places from the side that drew with Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Noel Hunt also started, alongside Simon Church, upfront and Ben Hamer deputised for Adam Federici in goal.
Things looked to be going to plan when Julian Kelly was clearly fouled in the area after just 6 minutes, but amazingly the referee turned down the appeals for a penalty. However it only took until the 17th minute for us to take the lead, Mills volleying home Howard`s free kick.
Unfortunately the visitors were level just three minutes later and following Federici`s howler on Saturday, it came from another goalkeeping error. Hamer spilt the ball twice after attempting to collect a corner and Andy Holt scored, a very sloppy goal for the Royals to concede.
In the second period we went ahead again following a scramble in the area, eventually Hal Robson Kanu lashed home his first goal for the club. But straight away the Cobblers were level, Hamer didn`t cover himself in glory again when going for a low cross and Kevin Thornton scored.
Thornton then went on a mazy run in the closing stages of normal time but after beating four Reading players, his weak effort was easily saved by Hamer. The game went to extra time and there were a number of chances for both sides before Mills scored his second of the game with just five minutes to go, heading home from Howard`s corner.
But with the final kick of the game we surrendered the lead once more and Michael Jacobs low drive was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Mills and the game went to penalties. Simon Church took first for the Royals but his effort was easily saved and Northampton never looked like losing that advantage, scoring all their spot kicks. Shane Long and Hal Robson Kanu scored, but sub Jake Taylor put his wide and Abdul Osman sealed the win for Northampton.
It was another poor performance from the Royals and our squad could be further stretched with injuries to Michail Antonio, who went off at the break, and Jem Karacan who had to hobble through the closing stages of extra time.
-Michail Antonio’s lively first half display
-Er, thats about it!
-Marcus Williams looks dreadful
-I’ve seen milk turn quicker than Alex Pearce
-Ben Hamer is an awful goalkeeper
-Julian Kelly, our only back up full back, looks very injury prone.
-Jem Karacan gives the ball away far too often
-We are not very good at taking penalties
-Need I go on……