27.5.2001. Walsall 3 Reading 2

Ray Graydon repeated another remarkable feat of leading Walsall to an unlikely promotion for the second time in three years against all the odds. His Saddlers side cost £180,000 Reading's squad cost close to £6million. There were around 15,000 Walsall fans in a crowd of 50,496 but all that mattered not as Walsall came from 1-2 down to record a memorable 3-2 victory at the Millennium Stadium.


On the half hour mark Reading took the lead from a long throw in that found Jamie Cureton whose shot got past Jimmy Walker. From a Pedro Matias corner Andy Tilson headed on for Don Goodman to hook home. In the first minute of extra time Reading retook the lead when ex-Saddler Martin Butler glanced the ball into the top corner.


At the restart of the second period Walsall got back on level terms thanks to a bizarre own goal by Tony Rougier. A minute later Daren Byfield scored the winner with a shot from just outside the area. The last 11 minutes seemed like a lifetime and with Tony Barras having to go off injured 10 men Walsall performed heroics to record a famous victory.


Speaking to ISSA in April 2020, Ray Graydon observed, "It was tough. Unbelievably tough. My players gave me everything they could - and a bit more. That showed the things I wanted. It meant everything to me then. We were the underdog team. We had so many impact players who knew their jobs. People have come up to me since and said, Ray, you gave my dad the best day ever, and he's dead now."


The players on duty on that day in Wales were:-


WALSALL - Walker, Brightwell, Barras, Tilson, Aranalde, Hall (Gadsby), Bennett (Bukran), Keates, Matias, Goodman, Leitao (Byfield).


READING - Whitehead, Murty, Williams (Hunter), Viveash, Robinson, Igoe (Forster), Harper, Parkinson, Mcintyre ( Rougier), Cureton, Butler.




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