THIS COULD GO ALL THE WAY TO PENS
IS IT fun watching a team stifle and frustrate? Not much. But Jaap Stam is unlikely to care about entertainment or aesthetics after escaping Craven Cottage unscathed.
The Dutchman’s dark arts worked to a tee. Bar a briefly mounted head of steam in the wake of their equaliser, Fulham never approached their rampant best.
Reading were simply too well organised, too disruptive and too well stocked at the back. Even the loss of Paul McShane didn’t have much impact. This was containment at its best.
So advantage Reading? Not really. The Royals will be expected to show far more ambition on their own patch, and will need to if they are to progress.
That will play into Fulham’s hands, as the Whites’ counter-attacking masterclass in the recent 4-1 win at Huddersfield demonstrated.
The return will be tight. It will be tactical. And if Reading are this disciplined, penalties may be the only way to find a winner.