Walsall 0 Reading 0

By Footymad Previewer
Last updated : 05 January 2003

Darren Wrack
Darren Wrack's stoppage time free kick fizzed against the crossbar
Walsall were fortunate to emerge from a dour match with a draw after being out fought for much of the time by a more effective Reading side.

Played on a pudding of a pitch, football was never easy, but Reading adapted far better and were more threatening right from the start.

Yet the Saddlers could have snatched victory in second-half stoppage time, only for a free kick by midfielder Darren Wrack to hit the bar.

A goal then would have been more than they deserved because they struggled for much of the match.

Reading began in far livelier mood and although chances at either end were scarce, the visitors had the better of them.

In the 28th minute Reading's former Walsall striker Martin Butler hit the post with a low shot and Jamie Cureton, following up, had a fierce shot on the rebound hit defender Zigor Aranalde.

Jamie Cureton forced a fine save from James Walker four minutes later and the keeper was easily Walsall's Man-of-the-Match.

The home side were lucky to go in level at the interval, but began the second half in far more determined mood. But Reading continued to be the more threatening.

Wide man Nathan Tyson was a threat on Reading's left flank and from his 70th minute cross Butler sent a low header only narrowly wide.

A minute later Tyson was again the provider and this time substitute Nicky Forster saw a left-foot shot saved by Walker.

Little was seen of Walsall as an attacking force although substitute David Zdrilic had an 88th minute shot go off the target.

Afterwards Reading manager Alan Pardew looked disappointed, commenting: "A draw was the least that we deserved, we were the better side.

"It was difficult for Walsall on that pitch. They were the home team and wanted to get it down and play, but they couldn't."

Walsall boss, Colin Lee, said: "I thought it was a fair result, I didn't think we deserved to win it. But I don't think they did either."

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