Royals pay the penaltyBy Nick Ive
September 24, 2008
James Henry's fourth goal in just three Carling Cup games wasn’t enough as Reading’s dream of a trip to Wembley was ended after a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out defeat last night.
The 19-year-old – a product of Royals’ Academy – kept a cool head to fire home a spot-kick on the stroke of half-time and then netted with a stunning second-half effort to take this third-round tie into extra time.
However, it wasn’t enough as Premier League Stoke secured their passage into the last 16 by winning the shoot-out 4-3.
Ironically, Henry turned from hero to villain, along with the luckless Leroy Lita, as the pair failed to convert in the shoot-out.
It was cruel on former Waingels schoolboy Henry, in particular, as his two-goal blast had pushed Stoke all the way.
Royals were second best for the first hour as their mixture of Academy products and senior pros failed to gel.
But to their credit they grew in strength and confidence and showed real character to twice come back from behind, finishing in the ascendancy thanks to their superior fitness.
The Carling Cup is the best chance for fringe players to impress manager Steve Coppell and stake a claim for the Coca-Cola Championship.
However, Reading’s exit now means the majority will have to wait until January for another chance when Royals begin their FA Cup campaign.
Coppell made 10 changes to the side that drew at Watford, with Andre Bikey the sole survivor.
There was also a return to action for former Stoke player Brynjar Gunnarsson, who was making his first appearance of the season after recovering from a knee injury.
Stoke: Simonsen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Higginbotham (Cort 101mins), Dickinson, Lawrence, Whelan, Buxton, Cresswell (Fuller 79mins), Sidibe (Phillips 63mins), Pericard. Subs not used: Sorensen, De Laet, Davies, Wedderburn.
Reading: Federici, Kelly, Golbourne, Bikey, Ingimarsson, Henry, Convey (Mooney 106mins), Cisse (Pearce 97mins), Gunnarsson (Sigurdsson 95mins), Long, Lita. Subs not used: Andersen, Sodje, Bozanic, Spence.
Referee: Lee Probert (Gloucestershire).
Booked: Stoke: Whelan 22mins. Reading: Bikey 48mins, Cisse 65mins, Henry 75mins.