Reading 2 Crystal Palace 1

Last updated : 15 March 2003 By Footymad Previewer

Reading moved back into third place in the Nationwide Division One table with a narrow win over a Crystal Palace side that saw their own play-off chances virtually disappear.

The winner came in the third minute of stoppage time from former Arsenal midfielder James Harper.

He latched onto Luke Chadwick's cross from the right to hammer a shot low into the Palace net.

Reading had taken the lead midway through the second half with Steve Brown's first goal for the club.

The former Charlton defender collected Nicky Shorey's fee kick to shoot low past substitute goalkeeper Alex Kolinko.

The Latvian had come on in the 20th minute as a replacement for Cedric Berthelin who injured his right thigh.

Palace equalised ten minutes later with a goal from live-wire Andy Johnson.

Put through by Dougie Freedman he cut in from the right to shoot across Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann and into the far corner of the net.

"It's always disappointing to lose to a goal so late in the game," said disappointed Palace manager Trevor Francis.

"I am not going to bother answering the questions about our chances of reaching the play-offs. I have had nothing else for the past two months and it's boring."Reading manager Alan Pardew said: "That was a massive win for us and a must-win game for Palace.

"I was disappointed with their goal. We have now given away two soft goals from quickly taken free kicks this week.

"It just shows that we are a young side, naive in some ways and still learning the tricks of the trade."