MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: Noel Hunt (4 mins), Stephen Hunt (52 mins), Long (64 mins).
Burnley: McCann (89 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 18,621

Pos Team P Pts GD
2 Wolves 10 22 +11
3 READING 10 20 +15
4 Sheff Utd 10 17 +8
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Ingimarsson, Bikey, Armstrong (Kelly 65), Kebe, Gunnarsson, Karacan (Cisse 74), Stephen Hunt, Doyle, Noel Hunt (Long 25). Subs Not Used: Andersen, Henry.
Burnley: Jensen, Duff (Eagles 56), Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Gudjonsson, Elliott, McCann, Paterson (Rodriguez 76), Thompson (Blake 60). Subs Not Used: Penny, Mahon.
Reading: Armstrong.
Burnley: Paterson, Caldwell, Jordan. Sent Off: Jordan (90 mins).
Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).
In the sixty fourth minute Kevin Doyle outpaced the Burnley back four to get on the end of a long diagonal ball. Continuing his run he reached the goal line and whipped in a cross. Shane Long arrived like an express train in the box and met it with a perfectly timed run and steered the ball past Jensen. It was a beautifully simple goal but executed with precision and composure, and underlined the difference in quality between the two teams. Reading's performance failed to reach the heights of recent home games but they were up against an abrasive Burnley side in the middle of a good run. The visitors were allowed to get away with some hefty and illegal challenges by a lenient referee. Doyle in particular was singled out for some rough treatment. If they thought it would rattle him they were very much mistaken. For all their industry Burnley were restricted to woeful long range attempts at goal. Reading on the other hand were far more penetrative without really getting into their stride.

The Royals stamped their authority on the game in the fourth minute Karacan battled through a couple of challenges to release Steven Hunt on the left. His cross was too deep and had to be retrieved by Kebe, who turned it back across goal where Noel Hunt leapt magnificently to get the better of a huge Burnley centre back to head past Jensen. He was deprived of the opportunity to celebrate his goal as a consequence of getting a bang on the head as he scored. He was flat out for a couple on minutes and eventually had to be replaced by Long after twenty minutes. Hahnemann had a couple of saves to make but nothing too demanding. In the twenty ninth minute Armstrong burst through the Burnley defence going past two defenders but was unable to finish with any power. Had he scored it would have been a strong contender for the goal of the season. Thompson got the better of Rosenior in the air on several occasions but Burnley were unable take advantage his success.

Steven Hunt was in erratic form. He had run into trouble and misplaced passes in the first half and began the second half by giving the ball away twice in quick succession. Five minutes after the interval a cross found him unmarked at the far post. It was crying out for a downward header but he got underneath it and the ball looped over. It was good chance wasted. Three minutes later he found himself in a similar position but this time gave it the treatment it deserved nodding down past Jensen to put Reading two up. Ten minutes later Reading killed the game off with a goal from Long. Even with a three goal lead Reading did not allow themselves to relax. Bikey continued to dominate from the back with his incredible strength composure.Just emphasise his superiority he won the ball from Paterson and then nutmegged him before releasing the ball. Paterson suffered further embarrassment when running back from an offside position he collided with Blake as he beat the offside trap and was clear through on goal. Cisse came on for Karacan and looked very good, and Kelly replaced Armstrong . With all the substitutes used Kebe was forced to leave the field for treatment and did not return. Reading played the last five eventful minutes with ten men. Substitute Eagles was getting the better of Rosenior and it was his cross which McCann headed in three minutes from the end. Just before full time Long skipped past Jordan and was brought down with a clumsy late challenge. Jordan received his second yellow card and left the field, making an obscene gesture to the home fans on the way down the tunnel. From his body language Owen Coyle actually believed there was a way back for his team in the last few minutes. You have to give him credit for his optimism! You have to give him less credit for his team's lack of discipline. I can't remember so much whinging at a home game since John Terry last came here with Chelsea two years ago.They seemed to want to dispute every other decision. A stronger referee would have taken action early in the game to stamp it out but he decided instead to give long and tedious lectures which clearly had no effect.

It was another convincing victory for the Royals who are now quickly closing in on Birmingham and Wolves. It is also significant that Reading have hammered quite a few of the teams in the top ten. Of course we can rely on Coppell to keep everyone's feet on the ground. His biggest dilemma is about to come when Matejovsky and Harper return to full fitness to compete for two places in the centre of midfield along with Karacan, Gunnarsson and Cisse.
John Wells


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Burnley manager Owen Coyle saw his side lose 3-1 at free-scoring Reading, and predicted the hosts would secure automatic promotion. The Hunt brothers, Noel and Stephen, both scored for Reading, who made it five wins out of five at home, with 19 goals, as they closed the gap on second-placed Wolves to two points. Burnley had started in fourth but Coyle said: “We competed well against a side I expect to finish in the top two. I was disappointed with our defending, but Reading are terrific at home, and they deliver quality ball into the box.” Noel Hunt’s fifth-minute header gave Reading the lead. He was concussed from the challenge, however, and had to go off, to be replaced by Shane Long. Brother Stephen’s goal after 52 minutes, however, would have proved a tonic, as he headed firmly downwards from Liam Rosenoir’s cross. Then Long struck after 64 minutes with a close-range volley from Kevin Doyle’s zippy cross. Burnley pulled a goal back with a minute to go; Chris McCann heading in substitute Chris Eagles’s centre, but then they had Stephen Jordan sent off for a second yellow card offence. Coppell said: “Two defeats gave us a wake-up call earlier in the season but we’re adjusting. We are still a target for a lot of sides.”