After reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals in each of the past two seasons, Reading are very backable at odds of 53/100 to seal a spot in the fourth round against Stevenage this Saturday.
Interestingly, these are better football betting odds than will be found in the Royals to triumph in some of their Championship matches.
Reading fans are in need of no clichéd lectures about the magic of the cup as they have seen the competition work real wonders for their club over the past two years.
Creating memorable upsets against Premier League sides – most notably against Liverpool at Anfield – has inspired the club into commanding league form throughout the course of both cup runs.
Manager Brian McDermott would happily take a repeat this year and can be fully expected to approach the tie against Stevenage positively.
Reading have not conceded in their last three matches at the Madejski Stadium but can still surprisingly be backed at as long as 23/20 to keep a clean sheet.
McDermott could be tempted to make a few more changes to his line-up for the FA Cup this season than previously, but only because young talents like England Under-19 winger Jordan Obita are knocking on the first-team door.
Stevenage’s best hopes of sealing an upset could rest with the fact that several Reading players are subject to transfer rumours and could have their heads turned.
The spirit and camaraderie of the Reading squad has shone in the FA Cup more than anywhere else in the recent past, though, making a Stevenage win at 21/4 a very distant prospect.
Stevenage are of course famed for impressive cup runs themselves – last season they defeated Premier League side Newcastle 3-1 en route to the fourth round, having also famously taken the Magpies to a replay in 1998 as a non-league club.
Graham Westley’s men were also the first team to win a competitive final at the new Wembley in 2007, when they defeated Kidderminster to lift the FA Trophy.
These two actually met in the fourth round last season and it was Reading who shaded it 2-1 on that occasion. The even nature of that clash is the best argument for backing the draw at 29/10 on Saturday, but Reading were in poorer league form back then and played away from home.
Reading have not conceded in their last three matches at the Madejski Stadium but can still surprisingly be backed at as long as 23/20 to keep a clean sheet. Two of those last three home games were won 3-0, a scoreline that will pay odds of 19/2 if repeated this weekend.
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