Memory match: Reading v PNE

George Koumantarakis helped Preston North End beat Reading 2-1 in an FA Cup third-round replay at the Madejski Stadium in January 2004.

Thursday, 28th April 2016, 11:50 am
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2016, 12:53 pm
George Koumantarakis (right) celebrates his goal against Reading with PNE team-mate David Healy

The South African striker only managed five goals in his 18 months with PNE and one of those proved to be winner against the Royals.

Signed from Swiss club FC Basel in January 2003 as the Lilywhites sought to fill the gap left by a long-term injury to Ricardo Fuller, ‘Big George’ never really cut the mustard but still proved a popular figure among the fans.

This visit to Reading was only his second game of the 2003/04 season, a knee injury suffered on international duty for South Africa having kept him sidelined.

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The replay followed a 3-3 draw at Deepdale 10 days before, all six goals coming in the first half.

Three times, North End had come from behind to get a second bite at the cherry.

With home advantage, Reading started as favourites over their fellow second-tier opponents.

Both sides had early chances, PNE goalkeeper Jonathan Gould saving from Ivar Ingimarsson.

Richard Cresswell forced a save out of Marcus Hahnemann at the other end.

The Royals went close with a curling shot from Ricky Newman which cleared Gould’s crossbar by inches.

Then when Gould flapped at an Andy Hughes cross, James Harper shot wide.

North End drew first blood in the 28th minute as they broke forward to score.

Dickson Etuhu won the ball on the halfway line and fed a pass forward to Koumantarakis. The striker’s shot was deflected into the path of Cresswell, who cut on to his right foot and fired a shot into the top corner.

It ended an 18-match barren run for Cresswell, his last goal having come against Rotherham four months earlier.

Preston very nearly added a second goal soon after, David Healy’s lob landing on the top of the net.

The second half was less than two minutes old when North End doubled their advantage.

Michael Keane put over a cross from the left which Hahnemann and Reading skipper Adrian Williams left for one another.

Koumantarakis took full advantage, stealing in to shoot into an empty net.

Twice, North End had chances to put the contest out of sight of their Berkshire hosts. Keane saw a shot cleared off the line by Kevin Watson, then a Cresswell header came back off the crossbar.

Reading began to come more into the game, with Gould making a great save to push a shot from Dean Morgan on to the bar.

Then following an almighty scramble in the box, Scott Murray’s effort was pushed out by Gould.

Six minutes from time, Reading halved the deficit.

Shaun Goater got room in the box and after his first shot had been blocked by Gould, the former Manchester City man followed up to chip home the rebound.

In the closing minutes, Reading piled forward in search of an equaliser.

But PNE held firm to book a fourth-round trip to Swansea City.