Paul McShane

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Championship Playoffs: Reading steal 1st-leg draw away to Fulham

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After 90 minutes of the Championship Playoffs semifinal between Fulham and Reading, it’s Jaap Stam’s Royals who hold the narrowest of advantages after securing a first-leg draw at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Arsenal alive and fighting for 4th ]

In Tuesday’s second leg, when no away-goals rule will be in effect, a home victory of any scoreline will see Reading through to the final; any draw would send the two sides to extra time; any Fulham victory would send Slavisa Jokanovic’s Cottagers to Wembley for the Promotion Playoff final.

The first leg was thoroughly dominated by Fulham, in terms of possession (58 to 42) and chances created (Reading took just three shots over the 90 minutes, with just one on target; Fulham, meanwhile, took 12 with two on target). It was Reading, however, who went ahead early in the first half, as Jordan Obita fired past Marcus Bettinelli from a nearly impossible angle, smashing the inside of the far post for 1-0 in the 53rd minute.

[ MORE: Full “Chelsea Champions” reaction, here ]

Fulham needed just 12 minutes to respond, though, as a wonderfully free-flowing bit of build-up forced Ali Al Habsi into a diving save in the 65th minute. Unfortunately for the Omani international, the rebound fell no further than five yards out from goal, where Tom Cairney was the man in the right place at the right time and headed home to equalize.

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Reading’s earlier work was so nearly undone in the 80th minute, when Paul McShane earned himself a red card with a studs-up, knee high challenge on Kevin McDonald. The man advantage just about paid of for Fulham in the fifth minute of stoppage time, but Ryan Fredericks‘ angled effort flashed across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.

FA Cup wrap: Reading springs upset; Everton, Watford win, Arsenal to replay

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A fairly sleepy day of FA Cup action saw West Bromwich Albion and Bournemouth booted from the competition while fellow Premier League sides Everton and Watford moved on.

[ REPORT: Manchester United leads race to sign U.S. mid Hyndman ]

Reading is the upset hero of the round after a big win over West Brom that was marred by a postgame incident between Chris Brunt and a traveling fan who pegged him with a coin.

Bournemouth 0-2 Everton

Everton survived a scare when Joel Robles stopped Charlie Daniels‘ first half penalty kick to pick up a win on the road. Ross Barkley scored a deflected goal and Romelu Lukaku later cleaned up a loose ball near the six as the Toffees moved into the final eight with a shutout win at the Vitality Stadium.

Reading 3-1 West Bromwich Albion

Tony Pulis‘ Baggies are out of the FA Cup at the hands of Championship side Reading after they threw away a lead en route to an embarrassing ouster. Darren Fletcher scored in the 54th minute, but ex-WBA man Paul McShane tied it up shortly thereafter before Chelsea loanees Michael Hector and Lucas Piazon but away the Premier League unit.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20: Scott Wootton of Leeds United and Troy Deeney of Watford compete for the ball during the Emirates FA Cup fifth round match  between Watford and Leeds United at Vicarage Road on February 20, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Watford 1-0 Leeds United

Ex-Manchester United man Scott Wootton scored an own goal of the worst variety, essentially passing into his own net for the only goal of a cup ouster. Quique Flores‘ side moves onto the next round.

Arsenal 0-0 Hull CityRECAP

Tigers’ goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic had a day to remember, even if both sides may’ve chosen a loss over a replay. Arsenal now has another date to add to its schedule, though it remains alive for the first FA Cup three-peat since 1886.

Still to come

Blackburn Rovers vs. West Ham United
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Crystal Palace
Chelsea vs. Manchester City

Shrewsbury Town vs. Manchester United