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Mark Bowen proud of Reading’s fightback after winning shoot-out at Cardiff

Reading manager Mark Bowen admitted he did not care if his side won or lost their FA Cup penalty shoot-out against Cardiff after reaching the last 16 of the competition.

The Royals booked a fifth-round home tie with Sheffield United next month after fighting back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to draw 3-3 after extra-time.

Reading then won a seventh straight FA Cup replay by claiming the shoot-out 4-1 as Garath McCleary, Gabriel Osho, Jordan Obita and Sone Aluko kept their nerve from the spot.

“I actually said to them at the final whistle – and this might sound a bit strange – I genuinely don’t care if we win or lose,” Bowen said.

“We showed a lot of character and heart in the second half. We had a few harsh words at half-time, we let Cardiff play and dominate us. But we affected the game second half.

“They got to that stage where they were all winners, anything can happen on penalties. If we had lost on penalties it wouldn’t have changed my opinions of my players.

“No pressure, just strike it true. If we win, we win – and we did.”

Omar Richards, Andy Rinomhota and Yakou Meite scored for Reading – the latter’s leveller coming four minutes from time.

Josh Murphy, twice, and Robert Glatzel scored for Cardiff in the third meeting between the two clubs in the space of 10 days.

“I’m delighted. I guess it had to come down to penalties to split the trilogy,” Bowen said.

“You go into penalties and feel it’s going to be your night. We’ve got a goalkeeper (Sam Walker) who fills the goal and I felt confident.

“I’ve been lucky through my career with penalties. I won the play-offs with Birmingham as a coach, and also at Charlton as a player.”

The two sides were familiar foes having fought out recent 1-1 draws in the FA Cup and the Sky Bet Championship.

Cardiff had looked as if they were on course to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2014, but manager Neil Harris was philosophical about his side’s defeat.

“We should have won the first game – we had about a million chances,” Harris said. “But sometimes it’s not just meant to be.

“Some of the football we played in the first half was outstanding, but the goals we conceded were just not good enough.

“I’d love to be in the fifth round. You put your hand up to take a penalty and sometimes the goalkeeper makes a save.

“We have been the better team in all three games with Reading and haven’t won any of them.”