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Saturday, 4 January, 2003, 17:28 GMT
Walsall hold unlucky Royals
Walsall 0-0 Reading

Reading secured a home replay after an impressive display at the Bescot Stadium - but came within inches of losing to Walsall at the end.

Martin Butler's 28th-minute drive against the frame of the goal was the best of a string of chances for the away side.

But Darren Wrack's injury-time free-kick against the woodwork almost saw the hosts steal a fourth-round spot.

We did not deserve to win it but I don't think they did - it was a stalemate

Walsall manager Colin Lee

Earlier, Fitzroy Simpson shot over as Walsall created the first chance, but after Reading's Ricky Newman saw his volley saved by James Walker, the Royals took control.

Jamie Cureton headed wide, then Nathan Tyson's dangerous cross-shot from outside the box was cleared by Matt Carbon.

Butler came within inches of giving the Royals the lead they deserved as his shot cannoned back off the woodwork before Cureton's follow-up was blocked.

Cureton was denied again just after the half-hour when his effort from the right was held by Walker, and moments later the striker saw another chance go astray, smacking Sammy Igoe's cross high.

Indeed Walsall were indebted to skipper Martin O'Connor's combative display in midfield.

I felt we did enough to win it but we couldn't get the goal

Reading manager Alan Pardew

Saddlers boss Colin Lee responded by bringing on Pedro Matias for Steve Corica in midfield and David Zdrilic for the ineffective Junior up front.

But a booking for Zdrilic and two more Reading chances - a Butler header and Nicky Forster drive at Walker - was hardly the instant effect the manager desired.

Walsall mustered a chance of their own when Zigor Aranalde's 74th-minute header found the safe hands of Royals keeper Marcus Hahnemann.

And after Forster brought another save out of Walker, the home side so nearly turned the previous 90 minutes on its head with Wrack's last-gasp dead-ball effort.


Walsall: Walker, Bazeley, Roper, Carbon, Aranalde, Wrack, O'Connor, Simpson, Corica (Matias 65), Junior (Zdrilic 66), Leitao.
Subs not used: Ward, Hay, Martinez.

Booked: Zdrilic, Matias, Leitao.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Mackie, Brown, Shorey, Igoe, Newman, Harper, Tyson (Salako 83), Butler (Henderson 90), Cureton (Forster 69).
Subs not used: Watson, Hughes.

Booked: Newman.

Att: 5,987

Referee: K Hill (Hertfordshire)

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Reading's John Mackie
"It was a nightmare out there"

Fourth round draw

Tuesday's game

Saturday's games

Sunday's games

Mini Mike returns

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