Team: Hammond, Booty, Bernal, Davies, Swales, Hodges, Caskey, Lambert, Morley, Asaba, Bowen.
Man Of The Match: Hammond maybe.
Even with all the help you could have thought possible from the referee, Reading still only managed to scrape a home draw on Saturday - against a team just one place from the foot of the table. The referee looked disturbingly similar to that twat that refereed the Middlesbrough game but performed nothing like him. He sent off a Bury player for his first offence. A bad tackle but probably not that horrendous. After Bury had equalised he gave us an extra five minutes of injury time to see if we could get a winner. And on top of that he dissallowed a goal which, although it was handball, he could have easily have got away with allowing. With all that in mind you're probably thinking the Royals were a bit shit. Oh, you're right, they were.
Reading really missed the suspended Parkinson. One player they could have done without once again was Carl Asaba who is still yet to find his form. Also up front Morley looked his age. It looked unlikely we'd ever get a goal. So it was all no suprise when the first goal of the game came from a deflected Reading shot.
After 30 minutes of uninspiring football Caskey drove a shot in from the left edge of the box. The ball hit the leg of a Bury defender and rolled gently into the net just by the fast post. 1-0 to the Royals. Bury could have equalised but a rather impressive turn just on the edge of the six yard box, followed by a snap shot, found Hammond in great form to tip it over the Reading bar.
Half time and no entertainment from Kingsley Royal this time either. Probably that FA ban although he was seen walking the edge of the pitch.
Midway through the second half a Bury player got send off for a two footed tackle on Gareth Davies. Right in the middle of the park too. Seemed a little harsh - maybe the referee was closer than me! Still with ten men you fancied our chances. However Bury started playing a bit better as Reading looked keen to hang onto the single goal. Then came the inevitable Bury goal. Trevor Morley tried a token long range lob to get us back on top. It looked like it might dip in, but then again...
So once again the defence looked solid enough, in particular Nicky Hammond. However upfront there was nothing. Bury played their part and were the better team when down to ten men - you can see why this was their fifth draw from as many matches.
READING's habit of conceding late goals came back to haunt them against 10-man Bury on Saturday. An 87th-minute strike by substitute Andy Gray jnr, the son of former Leeds ace Eddie, denied Royals three points. But it was no more than Bury deserved as they showed the greater desire and better attacking ideas against a Reading side who were well below par. While Royals seemed content to hang on to a 1-0 lead, Bury gambled by throwing more men forward, and their positive attitude reaped its reward with a precious point. Reading have made a habit of leaking late goals recently. It was an injury-time strike that beat them against Middlesbrough in the Coca-Cola Cup, while Boro also hit four in the last 13 minutes in the league. Stoke and West Bromwich Albion were others to benefit from late strikes in the last six weeks.Manager Terry Bullivant said: "The lads are very disappointed because those two extra points would have pushed us a bit further up the table. But a lapse of concentration cost us dear. What was said in the dressing room afterwards is between me and the players but they're more frustrated about it than I am. What made it worse was Bury were reduced to 10 men in the last 20 minutes when substitute Ronnie Jepson was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Gareth Davies. Yet, amazingly, it was Shakers who looked the more impressive side at the end as Reading seemed to run out of ideas and steam". Bury boss Stan Ternent said: "We were the only team going to win it in the closing stages and it took one fantastic save from Nicky Hammond to deny us. Andy took his goal very well. It's just a shame we didn't get started until 4pm because our first-half display was very poor. But I've no complaints about the sending off. Ronnie was late with his tackle". Bullivant added: "Although it was a disappointing result, it was hard to get the quality back into our performance after such a hard game on Tuesday night. We did miss Phil Parkinson because he's a leader and we could have done with his experience in the closing stages. Parkinson was absent because he was serving the second game of a two-match ban for accumulated bookings. Darren Caskey replaced him in midfield, while Jason Bowen made his first full start on the right wing in place of the injured Martin Williams.Michael Meaker and Stuart Lovell joined Michael Thorp on the bench. The game started in sunshine, more in keeping with a spring day than early January, and Royals also began brightly. Bowen made a fast break down the right and had a good opportunity to cross but his effort sailed straight into the arms of Dean Kiely with Carl Asaba and Caskey waiting. Moments later Asaba had a fine opportunity to break his recent league goal drought It's been three months since he last found the net in Division 1 and, as he is about to start a three-match ban, he couldn't have wished for a better chance. A long clearance kick from Hammond caught out the Bury defence and Asaba was able to use his pace to shake off former Spurs player Andy Gray snr before hitting his drive straight at Kiely. The rebound could have gone anywhere, but it bounced straight back off a defender and into the arms of a grateful Kiely. A lot of the early play was scrappy and was punctuated only when Ternent could be clearly heard warning Gray snr he'd take him off immediately if he repeated a gesture to a supporter who berated him for allegedly elbowing James Lambert. Reading took the lead on 29 minutes when they received two big slices of luck in quick succession. Referee Micky Pierce waved play on despite Lambert committing what looked an obvious foul on Mark Patterson. Steve Swales passed to Cas-key whose cross didn't seem much of a threat before it struck Chris Lucketti and deflected in for an own goal. Caskey said: "It was too acute an angle for a shot so I chipped it hoping to find someone's head at the far post but it struck their defender on the arm and went in. I'd like to claim it but it was definitely an own goal. Five minutes later Asaba headed over following a good deep cross from the improving Martyn Booty, then Bowen delivered a dangerous cross that somehow managed to fall between Asaba and Trevor Morley. Bury, who had hardly threatened in the first half, almost equalised two minutes before the break when Tony Battersby's shot on the turn was superbly tipped over by Hammond. Reading had another slice of luck early in the second half when Bury fans thought they had equalised. Gray snr's corner kick was flicked on by Lenny Johnrose and two Shakers players came flying in to knock in the loose ball. Gordon Armstrong appeared to get the final touch with his hand, but Pierce seemed to allow it. However, what he signalled was a free kick to Reading rather than the goal and the celebrations had to be cut short.Tony Daws then sent a stinging drive wide after Royals failed to clear Gray's long throw. Kiely came to Bury's rescue again following another Asaba shot. But it was Shakers who finished the stronger. Hammond made a good save from a curling free kick by Gray snr, then Booty made a superb saving header from a dangerous cross. The dismissal of Jepson should have prompted Reading to finish Bury off. But the introduction of Gray jnr was the key factor. Daws' deep cross was neatly chested down by GRAY who took the ball wide before drilling a fine shot across Hammond and into the far corner. There was still time for Tony Ellis to test Hammond twice with curling shots, while Morley and Hodges both shot over as the game moved into injury time. Patterson and Daws were also booked for Bury. READING: Hammond, Booty, Swales, Caskey, Bernal, Davies, Lambert, Hodges, Asaba, Morley, Bowen. Subs (not used): Thorp, Meaker, Lovell. BURY: Kiely, Gray snr, Armstrong, Daws, Lucketti, Butler, Swailes (Jepson 61 mins), Ellis, Battersby (Gray jnr 74 mins), Johnrose, Patterson. Sub (not used): Woodward. Referee: Micky Pierce (Portsmouth). Attendance: 7,499.