Match Report: 2011/2012 Season

17 February 2012: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Roberts (11 mins).
Burnley: -.
Half Time: 1-0.

Attendance: 17,185

Pos Team P Pts GD
2 Southampton 31 56 +22
3 READING 31 54 +12
4 Cardiff 31 53 +14
Reading: A Federici, I Harte, M Connolly, K Gorkss, A Pearce, J McAnuff (H Robson-Kanu, 80), M Leigertwood, J Kebe, J Karacan, N Hunt , J Roberts (A Le Fondre, 76).
Subs not used: J Tabb, M Andersen, T Cywka
Burnley: L Grant, M Duff, D Edgar, B Mee, K Trippier, R Wallace, D Marney (M Bartley, 79), C McCann, J McQuoid (M Paterson, 68), J Rodriguez , C Austin (D Ings, 68)
Subs not used: B Jensen, B Easton
Reading: Gorkss, Hunt, Roberts.
Burnley: Duff, Wallace, Marney, Rodriguez, Ings.
Ref: D Deadman.
Reading can now consider themselves serious contenders for automatic promotion as they moved within two points of second placed Southampton. Anton Zingarevich made his first appearance at the stadium to witness a full strength Royals team complete a perfect week, winning their third game in six days without conceding a single goal. Everything leading up to this match contributed to a memorable evening. Both teams were in good form, full of confidence, and pushing for promotion entering the final third of the season. Sky cameras were there, it was Friday night, and although there were understandably few away supporters, the crowd generated plenty of noise.

Burnley started strongly and having dominated the opening phase of the game, could easily have taken an early lead after seven minutes when Austin headed against the bar. Kebe made his intentions clear on ten minutes when he accelerated past two Burnley defenders who had positioned themselves well to block his progress. McAnuff was in a similar mood on the other wing. Roberts put Reading ahead on twelve minutes when he swung a leg at McAuff's cross and the ball looped over Grant into the net. The goal knocked Burnley out of their stride and Reading established a grip in midfield. Burnley put Reading under pressure at times. On thirty minures thrirty won a free kick that was eventually scrambled away. Reading came close to adding a second goal as half time approached. Kebe picked up the ball just inside his own half and threaded his way through the centre of the Burnley defence. With options available on either side he decided to continue his run and was cynically hacked down just outside the box. Harte's free-kick was spilled by Grant and a Burnley defender miraculously cleared off the line as Hunt thundered in the rebound.

Burnley came out fighting in the second half and had two good chances to level the score. Federici saved amazingly from close range when the ball had dropped kindly for Austin on the edge of the box. Not long after Rodrigues rattled the post with an extremely powerful header. At no point did Reading panic and once again regained control of the game largely through outstanding performances from Leigertwood and Karacan. Harte continued his tremendous recent form constantly remaining composed in possession and relieving pressure with superbly weighted passes out of defence. Composure was not part of Burnley's young side's armoury and they had to thank some extremely lenient ( or should I say weak) refereeing for keeping eleven players on the field. They received five yellow cards and in my view there should have been two red . A second yellow probably should have come amidst a second half flurry, and Rodrigues deserved to go for a premeditated lunge at Leigertwood. It was however far from a clogging match as both teams played some good football. Kebe had a header cleared off the line and to round off an outstanding performance he produced an excellent defensive header in his own box when Reading were under pressure.

It was the sort of game which had everyone on the edge of their seats to the end and almost predictably the referee added a full five minutes of stoppage time to prolong the torture for the home fans. Robson-Kanu came on for McAnuff near the end and set up Hunt with a chance to make to two, but in his attempt to burst the net he found the back of the North Stand. Late in the game there was brief chorus of 'the Royals are going up'. It is a long time since I've heard that but I think the players a beginning to believe it.
John Wells

Here we go again, looks like another exciting end to the season for the mighty Royals which may possibly bring automatic promotion to the promised land or else the dreaded play offs. Nine wins out of eleven and many clean sheets really do bode well for the remainder of the season. The great Brian Clough once said all great teams start at the back and in Gorks, Pearce and Feds we really do have a solid centre of defence with all three performing quite outstandingly in recent games. What a signing Gorks was, remember Mrs Mills? Talking of defending Mee for Burnley produced the most amazing block with his head to deny Hunty just before half time of the like I've never seen in my life, well done mate. This was a good game with two good teams playing attacking football Burnley had lots of chances and we rode our luck with the woodwork but had our chances too, with Kebe and McAnuff causing havoc on the flanks. Two tough away games now where realistically two draws would be good results but the way we are playing who knows , our new owner Boris Zingers must have been well chuffed with his first visit to the Mad Stad so the future looks bright, hold on to your hats it's going to be a fun time.....again URZ
Nick Newbury

I love this team. We don't play beautiful football. We don't cause major excitement amongst the media yet we go about our business in a professional and dignified manor. We're not Bond, we're Bourne. We turn up, we play it cool and we kick ass. If we went one goal behind I know we would have enough to get the draw or to go on and take three points. It's not luck. It's a quiet confidence that will see us get promoted this season. We are stronger than last season. It's a tighter, possibly better league this season but we have the experience and a little more in our locker this season than we did last season. All I can say is, bring it on. We have the squad, we have the belief and we have the backing. Good to see you there too Anton.

Got to be well happy with that. A more enjoyable game than of late, I thought that Burnley played very well indeed and will be gutted at not getting a point.....but it is swings and roundabouts because the 0-1 loss to Hull (our last defeat) was unfortunate. Burnley played some good football, they are a handful up front and a clean sheet (thanks to the woodwork) and six points from them is great business. Reading played to their strengths as usual. Roberts held the ball up well as usual, wingers were busy, Hunt covered a lot of ground with limited tangible result but the work rate was good. Back 5 outstanding; an outstanding save from Federici for the second game running, but otherwise Harte-Gorkss-Pearce-Connolly was excellent once again. Pearce MOTM for me - the lack of pace issue is bogus, if it was a reall issue we'd have Usain Bolt at centre-half. Pearce is an excellent defender at this level for his positional sense and his good decision making. Connolly looked less like a centre-half playing at right back tonight and Harte's delivery was consistently good again from set pieces. All set for play-off failure for a 6th time then

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Reading battled to a narrow victory over Burnley to lift the club into third place in the Championship table. Jason Roberts scored the only goal when he curled home a Jobi McAnuff cross, after Burnley's Charlie Austin had seen a header rebound off the crossbar. Reading could have doubled their lead but for a brave header from Ben Mee who deflected a Noel Hunt shot clear. Jay Rodriguez headed against the post for Burnley before Jimmy Kebe saw a header cleared off the line. There was a lot a stake going into the match for both sides, with Reading looking for their fifth successive victory over Burnley in league and cup, while a win for Burnley would have moved them to within one point of the play-offs. Austin should have given the Clarets an early lead after a jinking run from Josh McQuoid, but the former Swindon striker saw his header come back off the bar to safety. But against the run of play, Eddie Howe's men fell behind when an unmarked Roberts beat Burnley goalkeeper Lee Grant with a clipped finish from 15 yards. The goal was Roberts' third in his four games for the Royals since his move from Blackburn in January.

Burnley struggled to contain lively widemen Kebe and McAnuff - a major doubt for the match following a hernia problem - who together stretched the Burnley backline on a number of occasions. Rodriguez, looking for his 19th goal of the season, was limited to long-range efforts, before David Edgar had an adventurous overhead kick go wide. With prospective new owner Russian businessman Anton Zingarevich looking on from the stands, Reading continued to press and when Ian Harte's free-kick was spilled by Grant to the feet of Hunt he could only watch as his shot was bravely headed away by Mee. Rodriguez then thundered a header against the post from a Ross Wallace corner, after strike partner Austin had been one-on-one with goalkeeper Adam Federici who expertly saved. The Clarets failed to properly test Federici - whose 14 clean-sheets this season is the most in the Championship - and he was a spectator for large parts of the game. Kebe caused chaos in in the Clarets defence once again when his header looked to be sailing into the back of the net only for Kieran Trippier to make a goal line clearance.

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