Memory match: Preston North End’s FA Cup win at Reading’s Madejski Stadium in 2004
Preston wins at the Madejski Stadium have been few and far between down the years.
They have won only twice in 14 visits to Reading, the first of those being a 2-1 victory in the FA Cup in January 2004.
It was a third-round replay, the sides having drawn 3-3 at Deepdale 10 days earlier.
Richard Cresswell gave PNE the lead, bringing to an end the striker’s 18-game goal drought.
George Koumantarakis doubled the advantage and, while Shaun Goater pulled a goal back late on, Craig Brown’s men held out to book a trip to Swansea City in the fourth round.
It was quite a makeshift side which Brown fielded in Berskhire. He had to do without four centre-backs, with his backline in a 3-5-2 formation made up of two full-backs and midfielder Brian O’Neil. There was no Eddie Lewis on the left wing, nor leading scorer Ricard Fuller up front, hence a first start in 10 months for Koumantarakis.
The first game at home had seen Preston equalise three times to earn the replay.
This time, they took the lead and never lost their grip on it.
Cresswell put them in front in the 28th minute as Preston hit their hosts on the counter-attack.
Dickson Etuhu managed to intercept a square pass from Graeme Murty and moved forward at pace. He laid the ball off into the path of Koumantarakis, his shot catching a deflection and spinning across the box.
It fell to Cresswell who made room for himself on the side of the box and curled a shot into the far top corner.
Not long after, a lob from David Healy beat the keeper but dropped on to the top of the net.
Just 70 seconds after the interval, North End went 2-0 ahead. Michael Keane drilled in a low cross from the left which Marcus Hahnemann dived to intercept.
However, the goalkeeper fumbled the ball, it struck Murty on the shin and rolled to Koumantarakis.
The South African striker spun and scooped a shot into the net from close range.
That was the cue for the home side to try and mount a comeback.
PNE goalkeeper Jonathan Gould made a fine save to tip Dean Morgan’s shot over the bar at full stretch.
Mind you, Cresswell was not far off adding to Preston’s lead. He saw a shot well saved by Hahnemann and then in the 75th minute saw a header come back off the post.
Back at the other end, Gould turned away a shot from Scott Murray, and then blocked John Salako’s effort from the corner.
Reading pulled a goal back in the 85th minute to set up a nervy finish.
A fortune ricochet took the ball into Goater’s path and saw him through on goal.
Gould was quickly off his line to block the striker’s first shot but the ex-Manchester City man reacted quickly to chip the rebound into the net.
Keane did his best to get back on the line and try to clear but the ball went in.
For the next few minutes it was a backs-against-the-wall job for Preston.
There was a scare when Keane tried to clear but saw the ball bounce off him and roll towards goal.
Fortunately, it went wide of the post and PNE were able to defend the corner which resulted from it.
Unfortunately the victory was not the start of a long and lucrative cup run. PNE were beaten at Swansea – then in the bottom division – in the next round.