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MATT FINISH SAVES ALBION; Late leveller forces replay at Hawthorns.

Byline: CHRIS LEPKOWSKI

READING 2 Kebe 1 min, Church 73 WEST BROM 2 Koren 18 mins, Mattock 87 From CHRIS LEPKOWSKI at the Madejski Stadium ALBION have it all to do again after Joe Mattock struck his first-ever Baggies goal to earn Roberto Di Matteo's men a draw at Reading.

The Baggies left-back scored with a sweet shot in the 87th minute at the Madjeski Stadium after Simon Church had given the home side a 2-1 lead.

Reading started explosively with Jimmy Kebe scoring the club's fastest ever goal after just nine seconds to put his side oneup in a fiercely competitive FA Cup fifthround tie.

Albion levelled through Robert Koren, who was only in the side due to Andy Slory picking up a heel injury during the pre-game warm-up.

Challenge Church scored a second-half goal after both sides had been reduced to ten men - Shane Long getting a straight red in the 48th minute for a poor challenge on Abou Meite, while Youssouf Mulumbu picked up two yellow cards.

Reading were coasting towards a win only to be denied by Mattock's late effort, which ensures a replay a week on Wednesday.

Roberto Di Matteo was due to hand Andy Slory a full debut only for the Dutchman to be withdrawn late on.

He was replaced by Koren, forcing 17-year-old Kayleigh Brown to join fellow rookie Sam Mantom on the bench.

Albion fell behind after just nine seconds.

Graham Dorrans passed to Gianni Zuiverloon who dithered over the ball. The Dutchman attempted to pass the ball back but was tackled by Jimmy Kebe, who raced away from Abdoulaye Meite and fired his side into an early lead.

It was classed as Reading's fastest-ever goal. It was an appalling start for the visitors.

They tried to hit back five minutes later when Meite's near post flick on was headed wide by Simon Cox.

The Baggies could have found themselves even further behind.

The defence made hard work from a corner, with Meite scrambling the ball out of the box. Reading regained possession only for Jara to concede a free-kick on the edge of his area.

The free-kick sailed in unchallenged and was headed into the side netting by Kebe, when it was perhaps easier to score.

Robert Koren, who hadn't even been in the starting line-up ten minutes before kick-off, scored the simplest goal of his career in the 18th minute.

Chris Brunt's excellent right-wing ball was hit with too much venom and force for the Reading backline. Koren ghosted in towards the far post and eased the ball over the line unchallenged from close range.

The Slovenian could have grabbed a second when his long range effort slammed into Federici's left-hand post and was hurriedly cleared.

Reading were living a charmed life by this point, inviting wave after wave of Albion pressure.

Bednar could have made it two in the 39th minute. He flicked his shot goalbound but it lacked the power to beat Federici.

Albion were forced to make a change at the start of the second-half with Youssouf Mulumbu coming on for Gonzalo Jara, who suffered a bad cut to his foot following a late first-half clash.

Reading's fortunes took a turn for the worse in the 48th minute when Shane Long was dismissed for a shocking challenge on Abou Meite. Referee Chris Foy had no choice but to dish out the straight red.

The Baggies defender was forced off, to be replaced by Gabriel Tamas, while Reading brought on Simon Church.

Bednar and Chris Brunt went close to adding a second for the visitors.

Bednar's 56th minute shot skimmed the wrong side of the post, with Brunt's long-range shot flying just wide.

Parity in numbers was swiftly restored when Youssouf Mulumbu, yellow-carded within seconds of coming on, was booked again in the 61st minute for a foul on Gunnarsson.

Joe Mattock almost opened his account for the Baggies with a scorching 68th minute long-range effort.

Brilliant Reading thought they had clinched the victory in the 73rd minute when substitute Church timed his run perfectly to run on to Rasiak's lofted pass.

After getting away from Olsson and Gabriel Tamas, Church slammed his shot straight at Carson who did his best to parry. But the rebound fell back to Church, who rounded the keeper and slotted the ball into the net, despite Tamas' late lunge to try and block.

But Mattock ensured a replay when he slammed a brilliant 83rd minute shot home to beat Federici.

READING (4-5-1): Federici; Griffin, Ingimarsson, Mills, Bertrand; McAnuff, Howard, Karacan, Gunnarson, Kebe; Long. Subs: Hamer (gk), Tabb, Henry, Church, Robson-Kanu, Rasiak, Pearce.

ALBION (4-5-1): Carson; Zuiverloon, Meite, Olsson, Mattock; Brunt, Cox, Jara, Dorrans, Koren; Bednar. Subs: Kiely (gk), Brown, Moore, Wood, Tamas, Mulumbu, Mantom.

STAR MAN: Simon Cox

CAPTION(S):

UP FOR THE CUP: Roman Bednar gets the better of Reading's Andy Griffin at the Madjeski Stadium SEEING RED: Referee Chris Foy shows Albion's Youssouf Mulumbu a red card STILL IN IT: Joe Mattock celebrates after making it 2-2 to earn a replay HOWARD'S WAY: Brian Howard chips the ball over Gianni Zuiverloon
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Feb 14, 2010
Words:851
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