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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 00:55 GMT
Reading 2-1 Gillingham

John Salako scored two minutes from time to give promotion-chasing Reading a crucial win over Gillingham.

Rod Wallace had given Gillingham a 10th-minute lead but the home side were level within three minutes as debutant Luke Chadwick's deflected shot beat goalkeeper Jason Brown.

Steve Sidwell then missed a second-half penalty, but his blushes were saved by Salako's third goal in two games.

Player-manager Andy Hessenthaler was inspirational for Gillingham, and his floated free-kick was nodded in by Wallace from what looked an offside position.

Luke Chadwick scored on his debut
Chadwick got off to a flier
But Chadwick marked his Reading debut with a goal just minutes later.

He cut inside marker Leon Johnson before firing in a shot that deflected off the Gills defender and looped over the head of Brown.

A neat break from the visitors almost brought a second goal after 15 minutes.

Hessenthaler threaded a pass through to Nicky Southall but the midfielder's low shot on the run whistled past the near post.

Reading were enjoying a lot of possession but Gillingham were creating the more threatening openings.

Dubious penalty

In the second half Salako's looping header caused problems for Brown, while at the other end Wallace unselfishly played in Sidibe who missed his kick with the goal gaping.

Reading boss Alan Pardew brought on striker Darius Henderson in the 67th minute, and two minutes later he earned his side a dubious penalty.

Goalkeeper Brown missed a high ball and brought Henderson down.

But the keeper picked himself up and saved Sidwell's tame effort.

The Gillingham stopper was finally beaten for the second time with just two minutes left.

Tyson's deflected cross found Salako, and his volley on the turn took a touch off David Perpetuini to take the ball past the unlucky Brown.


Reading: Hahnemann , Murty , Shorey , Williams , Brown , Chadwick , Salako , Sidwell , Newman , Harper , Forster. Subs: Ashdown , Mackie , Hughes , Tyson , Henderson.

Gillingham: Brown , Nosworthy , Edge , Hope , Johnson , James , Hessenthaler , Smith , Southall , Sidibe , Wallace Subs: Ipoua , Rose , Perpetuini , Spiller , Knowles.

Referee: Paul Rejer (Worcestershire).


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