March 2015: READING 3 (Robson-Kanu 6, McCleary 9, Mackie 68) BRADFORD CITY 0

IT’S not even a fortnight since City last took to the field. But already it feels like ages.

As the football world grinds to a sudden halt, you start to miss every aspect of the game.

Even the silly bits like an overweight topless fan doing body-flips in the middle of an FA Cup quarter-final.

This week marks five years since the bizarre episode that saw Reading fan Charlie Sumner, AKA “Pudding”, grab his 15 minutes of infamy on national TV.

The one-man invasion, taken up for a bet, would cost him a three-year banning order.

But it also provided the one light-hearted moment on the night that City’s improbable FA Cup dream met reality.

The 2015 cup run will always be enshrined in Bantams folklore for the fourth round. That win at Chelsea never grows old.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that another Premier League scalp then followed in the Valley Parade mud when City trumped a Sunderland side who clearly never fancied it.

The quarter-finals, unfortunately, proved a round too far.

A home tie against Championship opposition Reading offered an enticing route to another day-out at Wembley for Phil Parkinson’s giant-killers.

Despite the management warnings about not getting carried away, many fans saw Steve Clarke’s Royals as there for the taking.

A cagy goalless affair at Valley Parade suggested otherwise. Reading came to nullify and stifle the lunchtime “scarf parade” in a scrappy, dour affair where chances were at a premium.

The replay, which appeared to be their sole aim, was set for a week on Monday – ridiculously shoved forward to avoid clashing with European TV dates.

Reading had the squad luxury of resting their entire team in the league two days before; City had to play five of their line-up.

The freshness of the hosts was clear as they burst out the blocks to blow away Bantam hopes of one more upset.

Reading were ahead after just six minutes as Hal Robson-Kanu rose highest to nod home Garath McCleary’s corner.

McCleary, who would later accuse a City fan of racial abuse, then made it 2-0 when he cut inside and fired home from just inside the area – a big looping deflection off Andy Halliday leaving Ben Williams with no chance.

The game was less than 10 minutes old and already effectively up for the visitors.

This time, there was no hint of a Stamford Bridge-style recovery.

Instead, it was Reading looking to pile on the pain and Williams prevented further trouble with a fine save from Dan Williams.

City looked sluggish and off the pace and their problems grew when Filipe Morais was sent off after 62 minutes, ref Mike Jones showing a straight red for a high challenge into Nathaniel Chalobah’s midriff.

And Reading made sure of their first semi-final appearance in 88 years with a third goal six minutes later.

Chalobah, on loan from Chelsea, gained some revenge for his parent club’s humiliation at City’s hands when he sent Jamie Mackie clear to slot past Williams.

City managed only one shot on target as the deflated travelling army looked on while jubilant Reading fans invaded the pitch.

Parkinson said: “We’ve got so many great memories to take with us for years to come.”

READING: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, D Williams, Hector, McCleary (Norwood 86), Obita, Chalobah, Pogrebnyak, Robson-Kanu (Blackman 83), Mackie.

CITY: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Sheehan, Meredith, Halliday (Yeates 59), Liddle, Knott (Dolan 74), Morais, Stead (Clarke 59), Hanson.

REFEREE: Mike Jones