Darby thanks Reds team-mates
By James Riach - Sky Sports
Liverpool youngster Stephen Darby has
expressed his thanks after returning to the Reds team
The 21-year-old defender played 90 minutes as Liverpool drew
1-1 in the FA Cup at the Madejski Stadium, earning the
Royals a replay at Anfield next Wednesday.
Darby made his Reds debut in the UEFA Champions League
against Fiorentina in December, but what should have been a
day to remember turned to disaster when he gifted Viola
forward Alberto Gilardino a goal which sealed the win for
the away side, ending Liverpool's European campaign on a
Darby admits he was at a low ebb after the error, but has
thanked his team-mates for picking him up and giving him the
confidence to bounce back.
"It's something I've got to learn from and I couldn't dwell
on it too much," he told the Liverpool Echo.
"I tried to put it behind me quickly and use the experience
to make me a better player.
"It was a night of mixed emotions; obviously it was amazing
to make my debut at Anfield but to concede a goal like I did
in the last minute was very disappointing.
"It really hurt for a couple of days after, I can safely say
that. But the lads got behind me and gave me great advice
Darby was delighted to make manager Rafa Benitez's starting
XI for the cup match against Reading, and hopes he has done
enough to deserve another shot in the first-team with Glen
Johnson out injured.
"Hopefully there will be a couple of more chances in the
next couple of weeks," he added. "You've got to be
level-headed and realise the hard work is only just
"It was important to get another game. Now it's just a
question of continuing to work hard and hopefully showing
enough to impress the coaching staff.
"There are a number of possibilities for the manager and he
can change things around; the competition for places is
massive but all I can do is keep working hard."
Liverpool were not on their best form for the trip to
Berkshire, but although Darby admitted the team were
disappointed with the performance, he expects them to prove
their worth in the replay.
"We were disappointed to go a goal down but I thought we
fought back well but, at the end, we were disappointed not
to win the game," he remarked.
"They put us under a bit of pressure and we had a couple of
chances but, unfortunately, we didn't take them; as a team I
thought we battled well after going a goal down.
"It's only half-time, we've got the replay to come and
hopefully we'll put it right.
"We were really compact and defended well; it was just a big
confidence boost to start and shows that the manager has
faith in me. Now I have got to try and repay it."
By Al Campbell - LFC Online
Jamie Carragher has praised Stephen Darby.
The reserve team captain was Liverpool's best player in
their 1-1 draw in the FA Cup third round tie at Reading
yesterday and his performance earned him the praise of
"He played very well and I'm really pleased for him," said
the vice captain.
"I thought he also did well against Fiorentina recently, and
he was just unfortunate at the end of that game with the
"It wasn't the easiest game against Reading, and it was very
difficult to play in, but he showed great character to come
back from it.
"It was great for him and you also have to give credit to
the manager for picking him.
"It would have been easy [not to pick him] after what
happened against Fiorentina, but if you look at that game he
was one of our best players on the night.
"And he was superb against Reading, which shows that he's
not only just a good player, but also has very strong
"He was a very composed in a tough game. Sometimes it's
easier to play well when the team plays well, but to come
through it and perform well at a very difficult place to
play can be a real battle and we're all pleased for him
because he's such a nice lad."
McDermott: A terrific display
Brian McDermott felt a replay was the
least Reading deserved following their 1-1 draw at home to
Liverpool in the FA Cup.
Reading started positively at the Madejski Stadium and broke
the deadlock through Simon Church in the 24th minute.
Steven Gerrard equalised for Liverpool 12 minutes later but
it was Reading who impressed for the remainder of the match.
McDermott was proud of his players and hopes they can build
on the performance to improve their position in the
Championship as well.
"We need to play like that every week. The most important
thing we've lacked is consistency and we have to get back to
that," said the caretaker manager.
"It was terrific. I thought we were full value for the
replay and we might even have nicked the game but to get
another game at Anfield, we're absolutely delighted with
that, and that was especially for those 1,500 supporters who
travelled to Plymouth when we didn't perform the other day.
That was my motivation."
Reading were beaten 4-1 by Plymouth on Monday and McDermott
insists it was important for the players to be competitive
against the Reds.
"People said there was no pressure on us today but there is
always pressure," he explained.
"The last thing we want to be is embarrassed in a game of
"A side like Liverpool can embarrass you if you are not
careful. A replay was the least we deserved."
admits replay relief
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez admitted he
was satisfied just to still be in the FA Cup following
the 1-1 draw with Reading.
The Royals have been struggling in the Championship of late
but they upset the form book to earn a replay at Anfield
later this month.
Simon Church tapped in to give Reading an early lead but
Liverpool drew level courtesy of a Steven Gerrard effort
The Reds then found themselves on the back foot for much of
the second period and Benitez was glad to hear the final
"I'm relieved," said the Spaniard.
"To play in front of the TV and against Liverpool I think
was a massive boost for them and you could see they played
"They were pushing and working very hard from the beginning
until the end so we had to do our job.
"It was a difficult game and the most positive thing is that
we will play another game at Anfield."
Benitez selected a strong starting XI including both Gerrard
and Fernando Torres and he has vowed to try his best to win
"We know that we have two clear chances to win trophies -
the Europa League and the FA Cup - so we will try our best
in both and keep improving in the league," he said.
"This is the way now so we try to win.
"Our aim is to win trophies so we have to start winning
Quizzed about his transfer plans for this month, Benitez
stressed that he would be fighting to keep Ryan Babel
The Dutch winger was an unused substitute against the Royals
and has had few opportunities to shine this season but
Benitez has offered him hope for the future.
"He will have a chance to play," he said.
"He has to work hard for us. He's our player and he will
have his chances. At this moment we are not trying to sell
earn Reds replay
Liverpool had to settle for a 1-1 draw in
their FA Cup clash with Reading after coming from behind at
the Madejski Stadium.
The competition is one of Rafa Benitez's main priorities
following a disappointing first half to the season and he
sent out a strong side against the Championship strugglers.
But it was Reading who made the brighter start and took a
deserved lead in the 24th minute when Liverpool's defensive
frailties were exposed at a set-piece and Simon Church
tucked the ball away following good work by Grzegorz Rasiak.
The Reds responded strongly and equalised through Steven
Gerrard when Dirk Kuyt cleverly stepped over a cross from
the England midfielder to deceive goalkeeper Adam Federici.
Reading carved out the better opportunities in an exciting
second half but there were no more goals and the teams will
now have to resume battle at Anfield.
The Royals impressed in the early stages and had the ball in
the net when Jobi McAnuff met Pepe Reina's punch, but the
header was correctly ruled out as Rasiak was offside and
also impeded the Liverpool goalkeeper to allow the finish to
trickle over the line.
Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici was fortunate to escape
further punishment when he handled outside the penalty area,
claiming a ball Gerrard pushed through to Fabio Aurelio.
Martin Atkinson only awarded a free-kick.
The West Yorkshire referee was also lenient when he turned
down a Reading appeal for a penalty when Martin Skrtel
tugged on Gylfi Sigurdsson's shirt, but Emiliano Insua
finally went in the book when he fouled McAnuff on the right
That led to Church's strike. Ryan Bertrand swung over the
deep free-kick to the far post, with most Liverpool players
expecting the ball to drift out of play.
They did not count on Rasiak darting around Lucas Leiva and
pulling the ball back from the byline. Church used his shins
to tap in from close range for his fifth goal of the season.
Liverpool looked to Torres to get them back in the game and
the Spain striker headed just wide when Dirk Kuyt crossed
from the right channel.
It was their other talisman, Gerrard, who grabbed the
equaliser. The midfielder picked the ball up 25 yards from
goal and shaped to cross, with Kuyt stepping over the
delivery to fool Federici.
Gerrard sent Torres through before the break and Federici
spread himself well to block the finish, and Aurelio also
drilled wide when sent through.
Reading's disgruntled fans spotted their former manager on
his duties as a television pundit and chanted "we want our
Coppell back", as they hope for a return to the days of
The club have been in freefall since relegation from the top
flight two seasons ago and the likes of Kevin Doyle and
Stephen Hunt have been sold - but at least the current
players were not giving up. Sigurdsson unleashed a swerving
shot that required a decent Reina save.
Torres had threatened just after the break when he went just
over the crossbar from the edge of the area.
Federici appeared to pull a hamstring midway through the
second half, so Ben Hamer came off the bench and saved on
the line from Alberto Aquilani before the end.
Torres headed just over in stoppage-time as Liverpool were
denied a late winner.