Steve Clarke’s Reading side will head to Colchester United’s Weston Homes Community Stadium on Tuesday night in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
Tuesday marks the 65th outing between the two sides and Steve Clarke will be desperate to advance with a win on the road after Saturday’s disappointing 2-1 defeat to a plucky Birmingham side under the reins of Gary Rowett.
Meanwhile, Colchester go into the clash after picking up a point at home to a recently relegated Blackpool side with everything to prove.
Colchester fought back from behind twice to gain a point after goals from Alex Gilbey and debutant Darren Ambrose, signed in the summer from Championship outfit Ipswich, inspiring a performance which saw the Tangerines miss the chance to make an early impression after relegation from the Championship with a measly 26 points, bagging just 36 goals and shipping 91.
In terms of past meetings, Reading look the clear favourites having won 34 of the previous 64 matches involving the two sides.
Colchester on the other hand, won just 19 of those games with 11 matches ending in a stalemate, and will struggle to overcome a Reading side who, under Steve Clarke, have strengthened significantly over the summer, bringing in midfield workhouse Stephen Quinn on a free transfer from Hull along Irish teammate Paul McShane, who was named captain by Steve Clarke ahead of Saturday’s game against Birmingham.
They were joined by striker Orlando Sa, signed for £1 million from Legia Warsaw after finishing as the sides top scorer last season, and England Under-21 keeper Jonathan Bond.
One aspect Colchester could look to capitalise on would be Steve Clarke’s willingness to choose youth over experience, with youth academy graduate Aaron Tshibola impressing on his senior debut, hitting the bar with a shot from the edge of the box that sparked wild debate when it was deemed not to have crossed the line when photographs clearly showed otherwise.
Tarique Fosu also made his debut on the final day of last season in the 3-0 victory over Derby and Steve Clarke may opt for Dominic Samuel over Nick Blackman and the injured Pavel Pogrebnyak. If this risk fails to pay off then Colchester could be in with a chance of causing a major upset.
So, the fate of this clash hangs openly in the balance with either side looking capable of winning it. The fate of the game could be decided on the basis of the U’s 2014/15 Players’ Player of the Season Gavin Massey who is useful on either side and is menacingly quick. Reading will have to be wary of his threat on the counter-attack or they could well be punished by the former Watford man. H
owever the real deciding factor in this game, and for the rest of Reading’s season, will be if Steve Clarke can solve the problem of lack of firepower with new-boy Orlando Sa missing a penalty in the dying embers of the 2-1 defeat and Simon Cox hardly looking convincing with his rebound miss. It looks like the fate of the game will most likely be decided on which strike force turns up on the day.
So, Colchester and Reading fans, how do you fancy your chances ahead of this tie? Be sure to leave your opinions in the comments!