Reading 1 Preston North End 2

Last updated : 14 January 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Preston booked an FA Cup fourth-round trip to Swansea with an impressive replay win at Reading.

Despite fielding a side full of reserves and out-of-position players, Craig Brown's visitors deservedly extended their unbeaten run to nine games and stretched Reading's winless streak to seven.

Preston had come from behind three times in the first game at Deepdale, but Richard Cresswell's first goal in 19 games put them in control 28 minutes into the replay, the striker curling beyond Marcus Hahnemann after George Koumantarakis' shot had deflected kindly into his path.

And Koumanatarakis, making his first start since March following a lengthy injury spell, put the game beyond Reading's reach with a killer second early in the second half.

Michael Keane's low cross from the left looked easy pickings for Hahnemann, but the keeper and skipper Adrian Williams both looked to each other to deal with the centre and Koumantarakis was left with an empty net to fire into.

Preston, even without top scorer Ricardo Fuller, threatened to run riot as Keane saw a shot cleared off the line by Kevin Watson before Cresswell fired a header against the bar.

But Reading raised their game in search of a lifeline late on, inspired by the 55th-minute introduction of England Under-21 midfielder Steve Sidwell.

Young striker Dean Morgan, making his first start for Reading in the absence of injured top scorer Nicky Forster, saw a curling shot from the edge of the area brilliantly pushed onto the bar by Preston keeper Jonathan Gould.

And the Scottish international keeper performed heroics again to push away a late Scott Murray shot following a scramble in the Preston area.

Reading finally pulled a goal back six minutes from time when striker Shaun Goater saw his first effort blocked by Gould, but kept his cool to chip in the rebound.

But the visitors held on in a frantic finish, which included a desperate last-ditch header from a corner from big American keeper Hahnemann.