Reading vs. Sheffield United

Last updated : 25 January 2013 By @blades_mad1889

The Blades had been scheduled to face Bury at Gigg Lane last Tuesday night but was postponed due to a frozen pitch, it was the second time the fixture had been called off with the original fixture being moved due to our involvement in the FA Cup, it leaves our fixture at Nott's County last Saturday as United's last match action.

Sheffield United looked like there first league win of 2013 was on the cards when after only 90 seconds a headed corner from Harry Maguire found the net against Notts County. The win looked even more so when Magpies star striker Francois Zoko was dismissed following a few choice words with the referee Mark Haywood. With 10 minutes of the match remaining a free-kick was met by Alan Judge and evaded by everyone, including keeper George Long as the ball found the net.

Four times FA Cup winners (1899, 1901, 1915 & 1925) United have had to battle hard to reach round four, they reached the same round last season only to be knocked out by Birmingham City 4-0 at Bramall Lane. This season they have seen off Bristol Rovers (2-1), Port Vale (2-1 at Bramall Lane) and lastly a 3-0 win at Oxford United with goals from Tony McMahon (17 minutes), Dave Kitson (68) and Nick Blackman (87) to earn a tie with Reading.

Blades boss Danny Wilson is without defender Neill Collins (broken cheekbone) and striker Shaun Miller (cruciate knee ligament), meanwhile keeper Mark Howard (thigh) and defender Lescinel Jean-Francois (knee) have returned to training but are unlikely to see first team action soon. Whilst fellow defender Matt Hill (broken jaw) is also ruled out and expected to return to training at the beginning of March and Marcus Williams (illness) missed the trip to Meadow Lane last weekend, Darryl Westlake is likely to continue in that role.

United have two former Royals on there books, full-back Marcus Williams and striker Dave Kitson - the latter is likely to face his former club. Williams, 26 was signed on a free transfer in July 2010 from Scunbthorpe United, but in his two year stay made just five appearances and scored no goals. He had made his debut (ironically) against Scunthorpe but was soon shipped out to Peterborough United on loan. In September 2011 he joined the Blades initially on loan before making it a permanent deal.

Kitson, 33 spent five years at the Madejski Stadium having made his way through non-league and signed in December 2003 from Cambridge United. He made his debut as a substitute in a 1-1 home draw with Ipswich Town and successfully enjoyed promotion to the Premiership in 2006, during his time he netted a hat-trick against West Ham United (3-1) in March 2005 and in July 2008 joined Stoke City in a £5,500,000 deal. He left the Berkshire club having made 121 (+26) appearances and scored 60 goals.

In March 2009 he re-joined the Royals in a loan spell from the Britannia Stadium, making his debut again against Ipswich Town (lost 0-1) and was part of the side which lost to Burnley in the Championship Play-Off Semi-Finals and returned to the Potteries having made a further 9 (+3) appearances and netted two goals. He signed for Sheffield United in August 2012 after being released by Portsmouth.

The Royals have never competed in an FA Cup Final and will no doubt be aiming to achieve this, this time round. The furthest they have reached in this competition was the Semi-Final stage in 1927, they had beaten off Weymouth 5-0 in a first round replay (following a 4-4 draw), they then saw off Southend United (3-2) at home and eventually Manchester United (2-1) in a third replay at Villa Park. Portsmouth (3-1) and Brentford (1-0) were there next victims until eventual winners of the cup, Cardiff City (0-3) won a semi-final tie at Molineux.

They saw off Crawley Town in round three of the competition but had to come from behind when Nicky Adams netted for the home side within a minute of the match but the experience of the top flight side took them through; former Rotherham United striker Adam Le Fondre (13) got them back into the game before Noel Hunt (44) put them ahead before the break and little after the re-start Le Fondre (49) was again on the score sheet to put the visitors through.

New signing Daniel Carrico (from Sporting CP) could make his debut against the Blades, however Hope Akpan will have to hold on, the striker is cup-tied following his transfer from Crawley. On the injury front they are without veteran forward Jason Roberts (hip) through injury whilst Hal Robson-Kanu is also sidelined.

Midfielder Mikele Leigertwood is likely start against his former club, he was signed by Neil Warnock for £600,000 in July 2006 (from Crystal Palace), following their successful promotion to the Premier League. He stayed at the Lane for just twelve months, joining Queens Park Rangers in a £900,000 deal having made19 (+4) appearances for the Blades. He joined Reading on loan in November 2010 until the end of the season and made his Royals debut in the draw against Leeds.

Blades-Mad Prediction: Reading 0-1 Sheffield United