Leigertwood (left) celebrates his goal while Stevenage's Andy Griffin grimaces
Championship Reading overcame a spirited Stevenage to avoid an FA Cup upset and reach the last 16.
League Two Stevenage, who beat Premier League Newcastle in the last round, went behind when Mikele Leigertwood dribbled past two men and slotted in.
However, the hosts levelled when Darius Charles cut inside and curled home.
After chances for both sides to take the lead, Shane Long converted Jobi McAnuff's cross to finally end Stevenage's brave resistance.
It was a cruel blow for the home side, ranked 50 league places beneath their opponents, as they were only three minutes away from earning a lucrative replay.
Add to that the fact the Hertfordshire club had chances of their own to win it, they may reflect on the result with a twinge of disappointment.
Stevenage certainly started well and Michael Bostwick, who
scored against Newcastle,
had the first effort on goal with a 25-yard strike that was straight at Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici.
But the visitors hit back and Andy Griffin waltzed into the area before pulling a cross across the face of goal and in-form striker Long then headed wide from a corner.
And the Royals took the lead through Leigertwood when the on-loan QPR man beat two challenges before striking a left-footed effort into the corner.
It took Stevenage a while to recover but when they found their rhythm again, Scott Laird volleyed just wide.
Just after the restart, Simon Church turned sharply to shoot over the top as Reading looked for a killer second goal.
The Championship outfit should have made the game safe just after the hour mark but Hal Robson-Kanu's poor touch allowed keeper Chris Day to smother the ball at his feet.
Underdogs Stevenage almost punished Reading moments later when an unmarked Chris Beardsley thumped a header over the top.
And it was Charles who did make the breakthrough when he cut inside Matthew Mills before curling a fine effort wide of Federici from the corner of the penalty area.
Both sides had opportunities to take the lead but squandered them and it appeared a replay would be needed.
But that fate was avoided when McAnuff produced a fine cross which Long volleyed in.
Stevenage manager Graham Westley: "The lads feel very deflated back there. They have put a brilliant effort in today, but we've fallen to a late goal from an excellent striker so that's the way it goes.
"It's been a great journey. We had a terrific result in the third round against Newcastle and we all made the most of that.
"We tried hard and every single one of the lads never lacked in effort, but in the end it just wasn't enough."
Reading manager Brian McDermott: "Every credit to Graham and all the lads at Stevenage. I'm delighted we've got through of course, but they have made us work so hard every step of the way.
"We thought we were in for a tricky final period when Stevenage equalised as they did with a great strike, but in the end I don't think anyone can begrudge us our victory.
"Let's see who we can take on in the last 16 now. We've had a couple of decent runs in the cup over the past few seasons. Maybe we can even make it past the quarter-finals this year."
Live text and stats
Saturday, 29 January 2011
The FA Cup
03 Laird yellow card
04 Charles (Odubade 81)
18 Bridges (Sinclair 52)
17 Winn (Long 83)
19 Robson-Kanu (Antonio 75)
Ref: TaylorAtt: 6,614
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+5:07 The referee ends the match.
90:00+4:09 Corner taken left-footed by Ian Harte.
90:00+3:48 Michail Antonio takes a shot. Save by Chris Day.
90:00+2:22 Jobi McAnuff decides to take a short corner.
90:00+1:33 Effort from just outside the box by Jem Karacan goes over the bar.
88:10 Effort on goal by Jobi McAnuff from inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the bar.
87:47 Stacy Long takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.
86:15 The assist for the goal came from Jobi McAnuff.
86:15 GOAL - Shane Long:Stevenage 1 - 2 Reading Shane Long grabs a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Stevenage 1-2 Reading.
84:47 Ian Harte takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Michael Bostwick.
83:49 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ian Harte.
83:14 Jem Karacan takes a shot. Lawrie Wilson gets a block in.
82:39 Substitution Stacy Long comes on in place of Peter Winn.
82:16 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Shane Long by Lawrie Wilson. Mikele Leigertwood restarts play with the free kick.
Correction - 80:46 Substitution Yemi Odubade is brought on as a substitute for Darius Charles.
80:46 Substitution (Stevenage) makes a substitution, with Yemi Odubade coming on for Darius Charles.
78:28 Effort from the edge of the box by Darius Charles goes wide of the left-hand post.
75:54 Peter Winn takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Shane Long.
74:28 Corner taken left-footed by Peter Winn to the near post, Shane Long makes a clearance.
74:01 Substitution Hal Robson-Kanu leaves the field to be replaced by Michail Antonio.
71:36 GOAL - Darius Charles:Stevenage 1 - 1 Reading A goal is scored by Darius Charles from the edge of the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Stevenage 1-1 Reading.
67:42 Chris Beardsley produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.
67:11 Hal Robson-Kanu takes a shot. Chris Day makes a save.
66:30 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Ian Harte from the right by-line, Robert Sinclair manages to make a clearance.
56:07 Effort on goal by Ian Harte from outside the penalty box goes harmlessly over the bar.
54:18 Andy Griffin gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Darius Charles. Scott Laird restarts play with the free kick.
52:53 Peter Winn has a shot on goal from outside the area which misses left.
52:43 The referee blows for offside against Shane Long. Free kick taken by Chris Day.
52:20 Simon Church is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Free kick taken by Chris Day.
51:34 Free kick awarded for a foul by Peter Winn on Matt Mills. Adam Federici takes the free kick.
51:34 Substitution Robert Sinclair comes on in place of David Bridges.
48:10 Effort on goal by Simon Church from just outside the area goes harmlessly over the target.
46:33 Free kick awarded for a foul by Chris Beardsley on Matt Mills. Direct free kick taken by Andy Griffin.
45:55 Unfair challenge on Andy Griffin by Peter Winn results in a free kick. Jem Karacan takes the direct free kick.
45:01 The second half kicks off.
45:00+2:09 The ref blows to signal half-time.
45:00+1:51 Shane Long takes a shot. Save made by Chris Day.
43:15 The assistant referee signals for offside against Peter Winn. Free kick taken by Adam Federici.
40:56 Jon Ashton challenges Simon Church unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ian Harte has a direct shot on goal from the free
37:18 The official flags Ivar Ingimarsson offside. Chris Day takes the free kick.
36:49 Short corner taken by Jobi McAnuff from the right by-line.
36:28 Ian Harte takes a short corner.
35:50 Ian Harte takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Lawrie Wilson.
35:10 Scott Laird produces a left-footed shot from close in which goes wide of the left-hand upright.
26:18 Foul by Mark Roberts on Jobi McAnuff, free kick awarded. Ian Harte delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left
22:15 GOAL - Mikele Leigertwood:Stevenage 0 - 1 Reading Mikele Leigertwood scores a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Stevenage 0-1 Reading.
18:09 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Peter Winn from the left by-line.
17:26 The offside flag is raised against Simon Church. Chris Day takes the free kick.
16:26 Jobi McAnuff decides to take a short corner.
13:34 Free kick awarded for a foul by Peter Winn on Matt Mills. Adam Federici restarts play with the free kick.
11:33 Corner taken left-footed by Ian Harte to the near post, Michael Bostwick manages to make a clearance.
11:15 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jem Karacan by Scott Laird. Free kick taken by Andy Griffin.
11:15 Booking Booking for Scott Laird for unsporting behaviour.
10:26 Short corner taken by Jobi McAnuff.
10:02 Hal Robson-Kanu fouled by Ronnie Henry, the ref awards a free kick. Ian Harte takes the direct free kick.
9:42 Michael Bostwick takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.
4:34 Corner from the left by-line taken by Ian Harte, Foul by Shane Long on David Bridges, free kick awarded. Chris Day restarts
play with the free kick.
1:30 Free kick awarded for a foul by Lawrie Wilson on Ian Harte. Free kick taken by Adam Federici. Shane Long fouled by Jon Ashton,
the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Ian Harte from left channel.
0:25 The assistant referee signals for offside against Chris Beardsley. Adam Federici restarts play with the free kick.
0:00 The match gets underway.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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