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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 May, 2003, 20:51 GMT 21:51 UK
Wolves hold off Reading
Wolves midfielder Alex Rae
Rae scored the winner for Wolves
Reading 0-1 Wolves
(Wolves win 3-1 on aggregate)

Alex Rae was the Wolves hero as Dave Jones' men beat Reading to go through to the Division One play-off final at the Millennium Stadium.

The veteran midfielder fired home the winner eight minutes from time to secure a 3-1 aggregate triumph.

Goalkeeper Matt Murray was the other Wolves star as he twice pulled off stunning reaction saves to deny Reading.

His evening almost started on the worst possible note when he spilt Glen Little's tame volley after 20 seconds and Jamie Cureton almost pounced to tap home from six yards.

But the England Under-21 international keeper recovered his composure and proved his massive potential with two vital saves from Darius Henderson.

The first came five minutes before half-time, diving low to his right to parry the striker's point-blank effort.

Steve Brown flicked on Nick Shorey's right-wing corner and Henderson connected with a downward header, which Murray brilliantly stopped as Cureton tried to polish off the scraps again.

Colin Cameron burst forward for the visitors on the stroke of half-time and Adie Williams made an excellent sliding block to protect his goal.

But Murray saved the day again just after the hour when Andy Hughes slipped a fine pass through to Henderson and the forward was again denied by Murray, before Joleon Lescott cleared.

Reading midfielder Steve Sidwell dragged a 20-yard attempt past the post after 66 minutes as the home side piled forward.

Little scooped a shot just over the bar from 10 yards after a fine one-two with Cureton as the Royals struggled to find the breakthrough.

And with Reading running out of ideas Wolves substitute Rae ended their dream and put Jones' men in the final with a goal that sparked scenes of celebration among the 4,000-strong travelling army.

The 33-year-old former Sunderland midfielder cut in from the right edge of the Royals area and drove a 15-yard angled shot beyond Marcus Hahnemann and into the bottom left corner of the net.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Brown, Williams, Little, Harper, Sidwell, Hughes, Henderson, Cureton. Subs: Ashdown, Watson, Rougier, Mackie, Chadwick.

Wolverhampton: Murray, Irwin, Naylor, Lescott, Butler, Newton, Cameron, Ince, Kennedy, Blake, Miller. Subs: Oakes, Rae, Sturridge, Pollet, Cooper.

Referee: H Webb (S Yorkshire)

Wolves boss Dave Jones
"We're on the road to a dream that will hopefully come true"

Reading boss Alan Pardew
"We couldn't have given a much better performance - on another day we'd be 2-0 up"



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