McDermott makes his mark but Reds survive

Reading 1 Liverpool 1

Approaching his opposite number for a handshake after Saturday's game, Reading's caretaker manager Brian McDermott realised he was unsure of the appropriate form of address. "I called him Mr Benitez," he said. "What did he call me? I don't think he knew my name."

Football fans all over the country would have been equally unfamiliar with the bald, bespectacled chief scout in charge of a league team for only the fourth time. Asked if he will still be there for the replay on Wednesday week, he admitted: "I wouldn't have a clue." But the face is likely to grow more familiar, with Reading in no hurry to secure a permanent replacement for Brendan Rodgers, who was sacked after four months of the season.

Last year was a dreadful year for Reading, full not so much of what-might-have-beens as what ought to have been. Winning at home to Birmingham City on the final day of last season would have ensured automatic promotion straight back to the Premier League but the game was lost, as was the play-off semi-final with Burnley. Steve Coppell felt obliged to resign, players like Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt were sold, and the Madjeski Stadium, once something of a fortress, continued to become a gift shop. Astonishingly, Reading have won just one home League game since last January.

On Saturday, however, McDermott's team showed less respect to illustrious opponents than he did to Benitez and it is a reasonable assumption that the 31 text messages on his phone after the final whistle were highly complimentary. Feeble in a 4-1 defeat at Plymouth last Monday that cemented their parlous position in the Championship – two points off relegation – Reading reduced Liverpool to a curious performance, good in parts but even then not good enough to see off modest opposition.

In the end it was just as well that Benitez, aware of the need to win a trophy this season, did not emulate other Premier League managers in sending out so many reserves. Were he the kind of manager to believe in omens rather than such mantras as "working hard" and "small details", he might even have recalled that the one campaign in which he won the Cup involved a televised Saturday evening third-round tie at Luton where Liverpool were 3-1 down. Jamie Carragher recalled that game on Saturday night, admitting: "All the praise and credit goes to Reading and it was similar to the game we had at Luton. Towards the end we were making sure we didn't lose it because they had a few set-pieces."

Conceding another goal to one of them, Simon Church bundling the ball in following a deep free-kick, again raised the question of Benitez's preference for zonal marking. He is unlikely to undergo a conversion, however, whatever happens on the road to Wembley or anywhere else: "Every week I can see a lot of highlights and you see man-to-man marking conceding goals. The last four or five games we didn't concede so we are much better now. We have to keep working at set-pieces, but I felt that we are not worse than other teams. Everybody knows that it is the best way for us to defend."

The best way to attack, meanwhile, is to give the ball to Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres, whose importance to the team bears continued restatement. Torres missed with two headers, but Liverpool's captain, abetted by Dirk Kuyt's clever movement, was credited with another crucial goal.

Reading (4-4-2): Federici (Hamer 69); Gunnarsson, Mills, Ingimarsson, Bertrand; McAnuff, Cisse (Howard 74), Karacan, Sigurdsson; Rasiak (Long 77), Church.

Substitutes not used: Tabb, Kebe, Robson-Kanu, Pearce.

Liverpool (4-4-2): Reina; Darby, Skrtel, Carragher, Insua; Kuyt, Lucas, Gerrard, Aurelio (Benayoun 79); N'Gog (Aquilani 68), Torres. Substitutes not used: Cavalieri (gk), Kyrgiakos, Basbale, Spearing, Degen.

Referee: M Atkinson.

Booked: Reading: Mills Liverpool: Insua.

Man of the match: McAnuff.

Attendance: 23,656.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea