Stevenage 0-0 Reading: Royals forced into FA Cup third-round replay after stalemate
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 06/01/18 6:29pm
Struggling Reading are now seven games without a win after they were held to a 0-0 draw by League Two's Stevenage in the FA Cup third round.
Darren Sarll's side started the day 15th in England's fourth tier but they dominated the tie throughout, with Joe Martin's corners repeatedly causing Jaap Stam's Championship team problems.
Danny Newton headed over from 12 yards after six minutes before defender Ben Wilmot forced goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola into an acrobatic save on the half-hour.
The Championship side's only effort on target in the opening half came four minutes before the break, but loanee Stevenage goalkeeper Tom King brilliantly saved Dave Edwards' flicked header from point-blank range.
Newton's neatly struck half-volley on the turn from 25 yards flashed inches past Jaakkola's post as Stevenage started the second half well, and Martin saw two curling free-kicks saved by the Royals goalkeeper.
Jaakkola kept his side in the game with a flying parry to keep out Jack King's goal-bound volley from the edge of the box on the hour as Stevenage deservedly earned a replay.
Stevenage boss Darren Sarll claimed Reading were lucky to escape Hertfordshire with the promise of a replay.
"There's no disappointment from us. Stevenage are the winners today, we won the game physically, psychologically, technically and financially," he said.
"We may not have got the score we wanted but the players will go away thinking that they're capable.
"If they were determined before the game, imagine how they'll feel going to the Madejski. We can be positive in our thinking for that game, we can go there with a positive mindset.
"We're in the hat and nobody will go away from this thinking that we were lucky to get a replay. Reading are lucky to be playing us again - that's the way I see it."
Reading boss Jaap Stam added: "It was a tough game but we knew it would be. We've seen Stevenage play and know that they have a high work rate and a lot of quality in their squad.
"We knew from the start that they'd make it difficult for us by playing direct. We needed to dig in deep, we had to work hard not to concede but you could say that sometimes we could have showed a bit more quality on the ball.
"I'm very pleased that we didn't concede, the clean sheet is a positive thing."
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