Bradford finally get a chance to show the BBC what they’ve missed in not televising them yet this season…
Reading v Bradford
Live on BBC One
Neither club were impressed at being forced to play two days before this FA Cup quarter-final replay. Steve Clarke’s solution was to replace nine players from the team that beat Brighton 2-1 last Tuesday, sacrificing some momentum with a 4-1 loss away to co-leaders Watford.
Opposite number Phil Parkinson was dubious of their approach, adopting some low-level mind games in noting that: “Reading were able to make more changes, but they got thumped which won’t help them.”
The 2013 Capital One Cup finalists are potentially 90 minutes away from returning to Wembley, though they weren’t able to take as many precautions at the weekend due to juggling their FA Cup challenge with a push for a League One play-off place.
Their 1-1 draw at Notts County leaves them three points off Barnsley in sixth with a game in hand and superior goal difference, with the biggest positive being FA Cup hero Jon Stead’s first league goal in over two months.
Match Odds: Reading 1.875/6, Bradford 5.14/1, The Draw 3.65n/a
The inconclusive nature of the initial tie, in which neither side performed at the level that they had proven capable of in prior rounds, means that there is still a bit of mystery to this market. However, 5.14/1 looks a large price on a Bradford squad who won at Chelsea two rounds ago.
First there are two worrying statistics about Reading’s home record: they have lost three of their past four at the Madejski Stadium and fired seven blanks in ten there.
Then you have the indication that Bradford cope far better with two-match weeks. Over the past four months, their results when playing between Monday and Friday are P7 W5 D1 L1, whereas Reading’s figures in that same period are P8 W1 D3 L4.
Of course, the most compelling statistic of all is that Parkinson has overseen the elimination of 13 clubs from higher divisions since taking charge of the Bantams less than four years ago.
Over/under 2.5 goals
The campaigning to get a Bradford FA Cup encounter televised by the BBC has dragged on for over a month, so it is rather unfortunate that they get their opportunity owing to a dreary 0-0 draw on a decrepit Coral Windows Stadium pitch for the BT Sport audience nine days ago.
The fatigue of two games in 53 hours is one of several reasons to expect a more open spectacle in the replay though. It would be more in keeping with both teams’ FA Cup adventures to date.
Bradford had scored 19 in their six competition fixtures beforehand, including seven in two meetings with Reading’s Championship companions Millwall and four against Premier League champions-elect Chelsea. All three of their FA Cup road trips delivered over 2.5 goals, with the latter two clearing 5.5.
The Royals got to the quarter-finals with three away wins over second-tier rivals, the latter two coming 2-1 against Cardiff and Derby.
Clarke’s men were involved in contests with three or more goals in both of their outings since the first showdown, in which neither they nor their opponents managed clean sheets.
Finally, the last four replays in this edition of the FA Cup all served up over 2.5 goals, as did Reading’s previous replay in the competition against West Brom in 2010 and two of Bradford’s three since that date, including one against Millwall this term (4-0).
Best Bet: Back over 2.5 goals @ 2.285/4
Other Recommended Bet: Lay Reading to win @ 1.8810/11