The Wembley dreams of Bradford City and Reading remain in-tact after the pair fought out a fiercely competitive, and sometimes scrappy, goalless draw in their FA Cup Sixth Round clash on Saturday.
The woodwork denied both sides a winner, but it will be the League One side who will feel most frustrated after their second-half efforts against their Championship opponents.
They will now meet again at the Madejski Stadium on Monday 16 March, with visiting boss Steve Clarke the most likely to be pleased at the opportunity of a replay.
Bradford City 0-0 Reading
The FA Cup
Sixth Round Proper
12.30pm, Saturday 7 March
Valley Parade, Bradford
Winning club receives £360,000
The game got off to a thunderous start, with Royals forward Jamie Mackie on the receiving end of a clattering challenge inside 20 seconds down the right – the first of several meaty exchanges inside the opening minutes.
With their raucous home support backing them, the underdogs certainly looked up for the fight, but Clarke’s men were more than able to withstand the early pressure.
City’s James Hanson registered the first effort on goal as his weak header was easily collected by Adam Federici, but from this moment on the visitors began to settle.
With their defence playing a high-line, they were restricting Bradford from getting in behind, and they took control of possession for a good 15 minute spell that nearly saw them make a breakthrough.
Danny Williams, who was marshalling the Reading right flank, almost saw his looping cross fly over namesake Ben in the Bantams goal before Pavel Pogrebnyak rattled a strike off the outside of the post shortly before the half-hour mark.
Back came the hosts, and they too were denied by the woodwork in a move that started with Hanson playing the ball back from the corner flag for Gary Liddle. The former Middlesbrough and Notts County midfielder’s cross evaded a host of heads in the air as it flew across the area before striking the foot of the post, but despite the efforts of the fans to suck it into the net, the danger was averted as it remained goalless at the break.
No changes were made at the interval as the proceedings began in the same fashion as they did from the start, blood and thunder being the best way to describe the opening ten minutes after the restart.
Bradford were now shooting towards their Kop end, who were also doing their best to inspire their heroes in claret and amber.
Filipe Morais fired a tame strike at Federici and Jon Stead powered through the middle of the Royals defence before seeing his shot deflected wide as the Bantams' pressure began to build.
In an effort to turn the tide, Clarke introduced winger Garath McCleary for Hal Robson-Kanu with just over 20 minutes to go, but it looked as if his side were happy with a draw as it remained the home side in the ascendency.
And despite the bobbly surface, the Yorkshiremen were producing some nice work on the ball, and with 72 minutes on the clock they almost snatched a winner after a well-worked move. A chipped pass was dinked over the defence as Stead peeled away down the right, pulling the ball back from the byline for strike partner Hanson – but the big forward’s attempt went wide of the post from eight yards.
They came close again through defender Andrew Davies, with the centre-half rising to meet Morais’ free kick, but he sent his header inches over the crossbar.
Another change was duly made by Clarke as he introduced veteran goalscorer Yakubu from the bench to take the place of Mackie in attack, but it seemed to have little affect until the Royals won a free kick with four minutes remaining.
Oliver Norwood’s centre from the left caused all sorts of mayhem in the box as Pogrebnyak beat a sea of bodies to nod against the post – the ball landing a yard from the line before it was eventually, desperately, hacked away.
But perhaps justice was done as replays showed the ball had in fact come off the Russian forward’s hand.
Bradford City (4-3-1-2): 12 Ben Williams; 2 Stephen Darby (C), 23 Rory McArdle, 5 Andrew Davies, 3 James Meredith; 20 Filipe Morais, 11 Billy Knott, 8 Gary Liddle; 10 Billy Clarke; 16 Jon Stead, 9 James Hanson.
Substitutes: 25 Andy Halliday for Morais 77, 14 Mark Yeates for Knott 84; 13 Francois Zoko for Clarke 84.
Subs not used: 1 Jordan Pickford, 6 Alan Sheehan, 15 Gary MacKenzie, 18 Christopher Routis.
Bookings: McArdle 37.
Manager: Phil Parkinson.
Reading (4-4-2): 1 Adam Federici; 3 Stephen Kelly, 15 Michael Hector, 5 Alex Pearce (C), 11 Jordan Obita; 23 Danny Williams, 14 Nathaniel Chalobah, 6 Oliver Norwood, 9 Hal Robson-Kanu; 19 Jamie Mackie, 7 Pavel Pogrebnyak.
Substitutes: 12 Garath McCleary for Robson-Kanu 66; 20 Yakubu for Mackie 79; 16 Hope Akpan for Chalobah 84.
Subs not used: 31 Mikkel Andersen, 2 Chris Gunter, 10 Simon Cox, 35 Jake Cooper.
Manager: Steve Clarke.