He Thought It Was All Over...

Last updated : 04 January 2004 By Rob Cooper
James Harper
Midfield phenomenon James Harper
Maybe he's got incredible foresight, or maybe he's just a little dim. Whatever it is, there's something a little odd about 22-year-old Reading midfielder James Harper.

The former Arsenal trainee left the field at Deepdale yesterday following the side's 3-3 draw with Preston North End convinced that the Royals had lost the game and were out of the competition.

Perhaps knockout in the replay is Reading's destiny awaiting, time will tell if the Royals midfielder is graced with special powers. Upon leaving the field yesterday, Harper believed that his side had crashed out of the cup, losing the game 3-2. Oddly, the scores had been locked at 3-3 since before the half time whistle. That someone could make such an error is utterly mind-boggling.

Speaking after the game, Kevin Dillon explained the bizarre situation to Reading World.

"I don't know if that's a good thing because he was in the zone and concentrating on the game, or a bad thing because he missed a goal," he joked.

"But he was convinced we'd lost, he went over to the fans to commiserate and was last in the dressing room - then we told him we'd got a replay!"

Whatever Harper thought, Reading's cup dream lives on for the time being at least. The team will discover what their reward will be if they beat Preston in the replay when the Fourth Round draw is made tomorrow lunchtime.

Fans will be hoping their mid-table First Division side are pitted against top Premiership opposition again following the success of the high-interest game against Chelsea in the Carling Cup last month.

But the replay must first be successfully negotiated if Reading are to greet fourth round opponents in this season's competition. The rematch has been scheduled for Tuesday 13th January at the Madejski Stadium, kick off 8pm.