Crawley Town 1-3 Reading
The FA Cup with Budweiser
Third Round Proper
3pm, Saturday 5 January 2013
Winning clubs receive £67,500 from The FA's prize fund
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By Julian Bennetts
Crawley's dreams of an FA Cup giant-killing lasted 12 minutes as Reading's Premier League class shone through, despite the underdogs scoring one of the fastest goals in FA Cup history.
There were just 14 seconds on the clock when Nicky Adams lashed home in spectacular fashion from 25 yards, and it seemed that the League One side could dream of reaching the Fifth Round for the third successive season.
But Brian McDermott's visitors re-grouped and were back on level terms after 12 minutes when Adam Le Fondre equalised from close range.
Noel Hunt made it two on the stroke of half-time before Le Fondre added his second from the penalty spot early in the second-half.
And despite a brave effort from Crawley, they never looked likely to get back into the game with Reading easing into the Fourth Round.
But Crawley could not have got off to a better start, and many fans were still taking their seats when they took the lead.
It was a goal straight out of FA Cup folklore too, as Adams cut inside and, with nothing else on, decided to belt a shot into the top corner from 25 yards.
The hosts were dominant and Adam Federici did well to turn Josh Simpson's header over the bar – but Reading hit back with a goal of Premier League quality.
There seemed little danger as Ian Harte drove in a cross from the left, but Gareth McCleary's cushioned knock-down was smashed home by Le Fondre.
Michael Jones nearly gave the hosts the lead again but was denied by Federici from close range, and Crawley were made to pay when Reading took the lead on the stroke of half-time.
McCleary was the creator once again as he burst down the right before firing in a perfect cross that Hunt swept home.
And it was 3-1 three minutes into the second-half.
Crawley's fans were fuming after what they saw as a dive by Hunt, but there was enough contact in the challenge by Joe Walsh for referee Anthony Taylor to award a penalty.
The hosts continued to battle and twice tested Federici from range, while Reading were happy to play on the break and wait for their opportunities.
And it was a deserved victory for the visitors as they saw out time and secured their place in the draw for the Fourth Round of the world's oldest cup competition.
Crawley: P Jones, Sadler, Connolly, Akpan, M Jones (Elford-Alliyu, 68), Clarke, Walsh, Hunt (Akinde, 82), Adams, Simpson, Alexander.
Subs: Torres, Bulman, Akinde, Cooper, Byrne, Kuipers.
Reading: Federici, Harte,Pearce, Morrison, Cummings, Robson-Kanu, Tabb, Karacan (Guthrie, 60), McCleary (Gunter, 85), Le Fondre, Hunt.
Subs: Shorey, Mariappa, Church, Ugwu, Taylor.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Crawley Town 1-3 Reading