THIS COULD GO ALL THE WAY TO PENS

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

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.

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