SHEFFIELD United crashed out of the FA Cup fourth round with defeat at Reading.
Today’s outing at the Madejski Stadium provided a welcome distraction from the rigors of a campaign which could yet end in promotion.
But only out of the third tier.
Nevertheless, despite enduring some chequered form of late, there is still plenty to admire about Danny Wilson’s side.
Less than two and a half minutes later, though, it was McDermott’s charges who took the lead when HUNT headed home Robson-Kanu’s cross to the far post.
Long, who watched the ball fly back across his line before nestling inside the far post, had been left horribly exposed.
Then, in the 39th minute, LEIGERTWOOD doubled their advantage with a superb long-range effort which left United’s teenager goalkeeper grasping at thin air.
The midfielder, electing not to celebrate a 30 yard conversion against his former club, simply turned and trotted back to the centre circle.
Wilson’s players began the second-half on the front foot as well with Murphy teasing his way into position out wide but Mariappa cleared his cross. Then, within five minutes of the re-start, HUNT claimed his second and Reading’s third. This time, a lapse in concentration was to blame. The striker, nipping into the space between Maguire and McMahon, was perhaps a shade fortunate to see his shot wrong-foot Long and bobble home. But he should have enjoyed neither the time nor the space to enjoy such luck.
McCLEARY heaped further pain on the visitors when he swept home beyond Long in the 55th minute. With a place in the next round now well beyond their reach, what mattered now for United was producing a response.
McDonald, who has been challenged to score more goals this term, saw a curling shot from just inside the penalty area deflected behind for a corner. Soon after, in the 62nd minute, Murphy thought he had reduced the deficit. Kelly, however, had other ideas and cleared the ball before it crossed the line.
Flynn’s emergence from the bench, with Porter making way, two minutes earlier saw Murphy adopt a more central role and the pair nearly combined to prise Reading open in the 68th minute.
The sight of Collins returning to action ahead of Friday’s crucial encounter inthe league will have provided at least some comfort.