Monday night Reading, an English professional football club competing in the Football League Championship, celebrated a dominating 3-0 win over Bradford City in the FA Cup quarter-final. The Reading win earned them a spot in the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in 88 years. Unfortunately, the celebrations were marred by a racially charged verbal attack on Reading’s Garath McCleary just before half and a post-game field-storming that ended in scuffles between the rival fans.
Prior to their poor performance against a fresh Reading squad, Bradford City was making a historic run through the Cup providing exciting play and historic upsets, touting wins over Premiership leading Chelsea as well as Sunderland. Reading’s play throughout the Cup hadn’t garnered as much media attention as Bradford’s but with a poor showing during the season, this run to the semi-finals after such a long drought is certainly noteworthy. Reading will face Arsenal mid-April in the semi-finals where the experts at Gambling.com predict the overachieving Reading squad will finally bow out of the Cup.
The quarter-final game was seemingly over nine minutes in as Reading took a 2-0 lead after McCleary buried the team’s second goal. McCleary, a Jamaican International who competed with the Jamaican National Team during their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, was allegedly victim to radically charged slurs five minutes before half. McCleary was fetching a ball from the Bradford City end of the pitch for an upcoming corner-kick when a Bradford City supporter confronted him. McCleary was visibly shocked by the fan’s comments and immediately informed the referee’s assistant. Knowledge of the incident was then relayed to the senior Reading security chief who promptly had the fan removed and arrested.
Reading officials confirmed the incident occurred with a statement following the game; “An incident was reported to the match officials just before half time, who in turn told Reading staff. A man was then arrested and ejected during the half-time interval.” Reading manager Steve Clarke also confirmed after the game he was aware of the incident.
Any chance of Bradford making another historic comeback in the second half following the incident was thwarted when Filipe Morais was shown a straight red card for a high boot. Being down a man and two goals equaled an end to Bradford’s memorable run through the Cup. Reading went on to secure another goal to seal their spot in the semi-final.
The post-game celebrations involved the jubilant Reading fans storming the field to congratulate their team on their dominating victory. Unfortunately, the jubilation was quickly silenced as Reading fans were bombarded with random missiles being launched into the crowd by unhappy Bradford supporters.
The confrontations throughout the match certainly dominated the headlines but won’t diminish the memorable runs the two teams provided in this year’s Cup. Bradford’s unbelievable wins will go down as historic upsets regardless of their inability to the reach the semi-finals. Bradford manager was quoted after the game, “We’ve got to be immensely proud of what we achieved, but this is tough to take. But we’ve got to move on. We’ve got so many great memories that we can take into the rest of this season for years to come.” Reading earning a spot in the semi-finals after an 88-year drought is certainly historic in its own right.
Although the racial attack and the disrespectful fans were disturbing, the excitement of such an unexpected match between the two teams was memorable. McCleary and his Reading teammates are hoping to move on from the incidents and continue their run through the Cup as they prepare to face a powerhouse in Arsenal.
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