If West Bromwich Albion had hopes of a respite from their Premier League woes they were dashed in emphatic fashion here. Roberto Di Matteo's team, whose early-season promise has evaporated fast after five successive League defeats, were knocked out of the FA Cup by Reading for the third time in six years, Shane Long delivering the killer blow with his seventh goal in six matches.
Reading were good value for their victory. The Championship promotion contenders have lost only once in their last 11 matches and their confidence was evident in the way they took the game to Albion, who played for half an hour with only 10 men after the dismissal of Jonas Olsson.
Albion can play some sparkling football, but the fizz was missing here, particularly in the final third. Although Di Matteo named a strong line-up, he rested Peter Odemwingie and it was left to Ishmael Miller and his second-half replacement, Roman Bednar, to lead the attack.
A Reading defence in which Matt Mills was a commanding influence were rarely troubled after an opening spell in which Albion felt they were done no favours by Jon Moss, the referee. Miller, making his first start of the season, had appeals for a penalty turned down after he had fallen under Ian Harte's challenge and suffered further disappointment when Moss blew up for a foul on Adam Federici after the striker had outmuscled the goalkeeper and turned the ball into an empty net.
Long and Noel Hunt had both gone close before the two Irishmen combined for the decisive goal after 41 minutes. Hunt's flicked header sent his strike partner clear and Long slid the ball past Boaz Myhill, who was given his chance in goal after Scott Carson's costly mistake at Fulham last week.
James Morrison and Graham Dorrans both went close as Albion upped the tempo earlyin the second half, but although Di Matteo's men enjoyed plenty of possession their play lacked conviction.
Reading regularly threatened through the pace of Jimmy Kebe and Jobi McAnuff, while Hunt and Long were always a handful for Albion's makeshift defence. Olsson replaced Scharner athalf-time but within a quarterof an hour the defender was heading back to the dressing room after being shown two yellow cards for clumsy challenges on Long.
Brian McDermott, the Reading manager, is delighted with the form of Long, who has been linked with a move to West Ham. "As far as I am concerned he is staying," McDermott said. "I have a great relationship with him and now he is getting rewards for his hard work."
Referee: Jon Moss
Man of the match: Mills
Match rating: 6/10