Royals into last eight as Toffees come unstuck

CAPTAIN Matt Mills struck the only goal as Championship side Reading claimed another notable scalp to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals for a second successive year.

Mills fired home after 26 minutes of last night’s fifth-round tie at Everton to put the Royals, who knocked out Liverpool en route to the last eight in 2010, within a game of Wembley.

The Toffees lacked a cutting edge in the first-half and the situation was not helped by the late arrival of their weekend goal hero Jermaine Beckford.

Beckford, who struck twice against Sunderland on Saturday, was held up in traffic on the M62 in the afternoon and could only make the bench.

That left Louis Saha, who had his own car trouble when he crashed his Ferrari on Sunday, up front alone ahead of a midfield lacking influential duo Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill through injury.

Little wonder manager David Moyes was disappointed at the outcome. “It’s a massive disappointment for us because we did so well in the previous round.

“You can only ask for a home tie and we didn’t take advantage of it.”

The Everton boss was honest in his assessment of the game, saying: “We could have defended the set piece for the goal, our attacking wasn’t good enough. I think they defended really well.

“They got back behind the ball and we didn’t have enough craft at the top of the pitch to make things happen.”

The night got worse when it was confirmed afterwards that midfielder Marouane Fellaini is set to undergo ankle surgery next week and will miss the rest of the season,

In contrast, Reading boss Brian McDermott saluted his sides effort and believes the win will “galvanise” the club.

“We’ve got such a good bunch of players and spirit and we wanted to take the game to Everton.

“It didn’t work for the first 15 minutes, they passed around us.

“But we got the goal and once you’ve scored it gives you something to hang on to.”

The Royals chief believes there is a bright future for the Berkshire side, saying: “In the league we’ve had a lot of draws.

“If we could have won a few of them we could have been right up there.

“We are close. If you can come to Goodison and put on a performance like that it gives you a lot of hope for the future.

“We are just trying to build every day for the future.

“Nights like that are just going to galvanise the club.”

Reading started brightly and in-form Irish striker Shane Long had a chance when he was picked out by a deep Ian Harte cross but Tim Howard easily claimed his header.

Reading, having been starved of possession for a spell, took encouragement from that and made what they had of the ball count as they claimed the lead from a 26th-minute corner.

Osman blocked as Mills met Harte’s cross with a header towards goal but the Everton midfielder could only poke back to the Reading man who skilfully took the ball on his chest and then slammed a low shot past Howard.

Everton boss David Moyes felt the need to freshen up his attack at the interval and sent on Beckford and Victor Anichebe for Bilyaletdinov and Coleman.

The Toffees applied more pressure but Saha and Jack Rodwell both had efforts blocked as the hosts started to get frustrated.

Everton had another major let-off 15 minutes from time when Jay Tabb found space in the penalty area but had a firm shot deflected behind.

The Merseysiders’ next opportunity came from a corner of their own as McCarthy failed to punch clear.

Saha pounced on the loose ball and turned to shoot but Beckford inadvertently blocked and the Royals survived.

McCarthy proved his ability moments later, however, with a stunning save from Osman.

Osman looked certain to score as he met a Beckford nod-down with a sweet volley but McCarthy somehow palmed the ball over from point-blank range.

EVERTON: Howard, Neville (Baxter 88), Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Coleman (Anichebe 46), Rodwell, Arteta, Bilyaletdinov (Beckford 46), Osman, Saha.

READING: McCarthy, Gunnarsson, Mills, Khizanishvili, Harte, Kebe, Tabb, Leigertwood, McAnuff (Robson-Kanu 79), Long, Hunt (Church 86).

Referee: Andre Marriner.

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