Reading 0 Walsall 0

By Footymad Previewer
Last updated : 18 January 2003

Reading and Walsall drew for the third time in a fortnight as the home side were booed off by their lowest league crowd of the season.

Following two FA Cup clashes these two sides clearly knew too much about each other as they cancelled one another out in a drab goalless draw.

Reading came closest to a winner but found Walsall goalkeeper James Walker in fine form, just as he had been when the Saddlers won the penalty shootout that finally split the two sides in the cup.

Walker used a foot to push Nicky Forster's first-half shot on to the base of a post with former Saddler Martin Butler skying the rebound high into the stands.

But the keeper saved his best until the last minute when he blocked a point-blank effort from sub Jamie Cureton and then recovered his position to deny the striker from the rebound.

That capped an afternoon of frustration for the Royals, who have now just won once in nine outings.

Alan Pardew's side prodded but struggled to break down the stubborn resistance of a Walsall side struggling with injuries.

The game took over 30 minutes to come to life but Reading striker Butler finally threatened on 34 minutes when his neat spin on the edge of the box gave him a chance to shoot, only for Walker to make the first of several fine saves.

Butler then turned provider for Forster's shot against the post and Reading also provided a late charge after Cureton had replaced the tiring Forster.

But Cureton saw a cheeky lob fly over before Reading's best move of the game 19 minutes from time ended with Andrew Hughes heading at Walker from a John Salako cross.

"It was a frustrating day for the club and the fans but we came up against a side that had no attacking intentions," said Reading boss Pardew.

"I am not having a go at Colin Lee because clubs have to do what clubs have to do. They need a point in their situation but we needed to win to stay near the top so I am disappointed from that angle."

Walsall boss Lee was making no apology for those tactics having denied the Royals for the third time this month: "It was a great point for us as Reading have been flying recently. It was a hard game but Tuesday's cup replay had much to do with that," said Lee.

"We have lost so many points in the dying minutes this season, but I feel now we have learned from that. Jimmy Walker was outstanding at the end as I thought we were about to give away another point.

"But someone up there must of been looking down on us at last, he has not done much for us this season so it was a big relief."

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