Burnley have now only conceded one goal in six away games, and after today's game it is easy to understand why. They get men behind the ball, they keep a tight formation, and they are neat and careful with their passing. I just feel sorry for the Burnley fans having to watch it every week! They have the perfect formula to stay exactly where they are - mid table. Not good enough to go up, but not bad enough to go down. For Reading, today was a missed opportunity to consolidate their position as league leaders. Hard as they tried they did not have the quality in their play throughout the team to break down their opponents defensive barrier.
The game was fairly subdued from the start with Kitson showing his usual composure and good use of the ball, but there was no real pressure on either defence. The first real chance fell to Kitson who beat the offside trap(possibly!)and seemed top have skilfully worked a clear scoring chance but was unable to apply the finish. Forster got behind the defence shortly after but his cross came to nothing. Sonko, looking powerful in the air, had a header on target from a corner. Reading's best opportunity to make the breakthrough was lost when Forster failed to slip an easy ball to Sidwell breaking from midfield having drawn the last defender. Instead of providing Sidders with a clear strike on goal he decided to take on the last man and failed to hit the target. I know it isn't Coppell's style to give players a bollocking but he deserved one for that!
Midway through the half we had torrential rain, and Burnley's first shot on target, which Hahnemann held well given the conditions. After the monsoon Sonko got flustered and almost gave Burnley the lead by losing possession outside his own area. This was followed by a long range pile driver from Kitson which must have been close judging by the oohs. I couldn't tell from where I was sitting.
The second half was similar to the first except Burnley looked more threatening on the break as Reading pressed forward. Coyne, who seemed to punt the ball into the crowd every time he touched it, saved with his legs from Forster from a good position wide on the left. Kitson was hauled down as he got round the back of the defence indicating Burnley,s intent to restrict openings by fair means or foul. The crowd tried to lift the Royals, and Coppell attempted to freshen up the attack by swapping Little for Hughes, Convey for Brooker, and Goater for Forster. None of the subs made a significant impact. Blake was being a nuisance for Burnley up front but never really looked like scoring. Hahnemann had another of his moments of indecision and retreated when he looked better placed to come and claim the ball creating a rare chance for the Clarets. Fortunately he compensated with a good save and was lucky to have Sonko close by to tidy up for him. Kitson, probably feeling frustrated, knocked the ball into the net with his hand earning himself a booking. With six minutes to go Kitson got behind the defence again, this time on the right, and cut the ball back for Harper who failed to strike the ball with sufficient power or accuracy and his shot was blocked. At that point I got the feeling it was not going to be our day.
Report by John Wells