Church praying for more Reading FA Cup success
Reading's Simon Church is a man in form. The Welsh striker has scored four goals in his last five matches for the Royals to help propel his side away from the Championship relegation zone plus in midweek he won his fifth cap for Wales.
Church (11/4 to score anytime) will now hope that he can help fire Reading to victory against Aston Villa in their FA Cup quarter-final at the Madejski Stadium. The Royals have already managed to get past West Brom and Liverpool so the prospect of last week's Carling Cup runners-up Villa visiting Berkshire should hold no fear for Brian McDermott's side.
It is 5/2 for Reading to qualify for the semi-finals but despite their recent good form I think it will be Villa that make the semis (2/7).
However, I think Reading can take Villa to a replay, like Martin O'Neill's side were in the fifth round against another Championship side, Crystal Palace.
Therefore in the 90 minutes market I would back the draw at 23/10. Betting on the 90 minutes market can earn you a free bet with our Free Bets For Everyone promotion - read more.
Most of Villa's players were on international duty in midweek while Reading's international contingent is nowhere near as big, so Villa's players could be a bit tired especially after last Sunday's Carling Cup final on the heavy Wembley pitch.
Reading often draw matches at the Madejski. Of their 15 home matches in the Championship this season they have drawn six and they are unbeaten at home since 8th December.
Last time out they thrashed fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 so should come into the match in buoyant mood.
A big loss for the Royals though will be winger Jobi McAnuff. The former Palace and Watford man is suspended so he will have to sit this one out. He tormented Liverpool at times, but instead Villa will have to try and cope with the more inconsistent Jimmy Kebe (4/1 to score anytime). He scored twice in the win over Wednesday and he will need to perform if Reading are to take anything out of the match.
A better bet to score though could be Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Icelander has scored in every round of the FA Cup this season and he is 11/4 to notch another in this match.
Villa may have bigger priorities than the FA Cup as they continue to battle it out to finish fourth in the Premier League but O'Neill should play a full strength side for this match as there is a place in the semi-finals and a trip to Wembley up for grabs.
Therefore provided none of his internationals have picked up knocks in midweek one can expect a similar starting XI to the one that was selected for the Carling Cup final.
The pace and width that Villa play with should cause Reading some problems with the likes of Ashley Young, James Milner and Stewart Downing lethal on the counter attack.
Young looks a good bet to me at 11/4 to score his eighth goal of the season against the Royals. Gabriel Agbonlahor will also have his backers at 9/2 to score first and 6/5 anytime.
For me though a confident Simon Church is the best goalscorer bet as the Royals dream of upsetting the odds once again in this season's FA Cup.
Reading are the only remaining non-Premier League side in the competition so they will have the support of all cup romantics all over the country, but despite their best efforts I think the best they can hope for is to take Villa to a replay.