Last Time We Met...Reading in the League
Reading are the visitors to Turf Moor on Saturday 23rd October and the last time we played them in the League was of course during our promotion season of 2008-9 when we played them four times in total! There has of course since been a game against them at the Madejski earlier this year when they unceremoniously dumped us out of the FA Cup beating us 1-0 in Brian Laws` second game in charge back in January. We were dire, so dire in fact I don`t really want to recall this match again at all, so I won`t. Clarets masochists though are welcome to read our archived match report should they so wish by clicking this link:
Royals knock lacklustre Clarets out of FA Cup
In 2008-9 though we would eventually spoil Reading`s dream of reaching the Wembley play-offs final with both teams fighting for promotion to the top flight. We inflicted two defeats over them in the two-leg Play-Offs semi-final of course and ensured that their manager at the time, Steve Coppell would soon be packing his bags and leaving the Madejski. More of that later though!
In the two league games prior to the play-offs battle however honours were even. On Saturday the 4th October 2008 away from home we were convincingly beaten 3-1 but just 24 days later on the night of Tuesday 28th October we got some revenge at Turf Moor winning the game 1-0.
The Clarets run of nine games without defeat came to an end in the game at the Madejski as high-flying Reading continued their impressive home form with yet another victory. How that home form would desert them though in the second-half of the season!
In this match though Reading struck on 4 minutes thanks to a goal from Noel Hunt and with Burnley behind 1-0 so soon in the match it looked like the Clarets could be in for a thrashing.
The Royals after all have been scoring for fun at home with 16 goals in their last four home games.
However in all honesty, we had most of the possession in the first half but we were unable to make it count as Reading threatened continuously on the break.
The second half however was to tell a different story and in the end Reading`s class shone through as they increased their lead to 3-0 thanks to goals by Stephen Hunt after 52 minutes and Shane Long after 64 minutes. A late consolation goal by Chris McCann was not enough to stage a spirited comeback and the game finished in the dying seconds with Jordan being sent off after picking up a second yellow by the not so friendly referee, Kevin Friend. A bad day for the Clarets then!
A better day would follow though a few weeks later in the return match at Turf Moor. That defeat at the Madejski had been our only loss in thirteen games and now we had a chance to make it fourteen.
Reading though had other ideas and put the Clarets under considerable pressure at Turf Moor. They hit the woodwork three times and Brian Jensen made five spectacular saves to keep the Royals at bay but then after soaking up all the pressure we hit them with a sucker punch with just nine minutes of the match remaining!
Substitute Robbie Blake scored a beauty of a goal after 81 minutes. He took a return ball from Elliott and cut inside unleashing a left foot shot that gave the Royals keeper no chance as the ball flew into the bottom corner to ensure a 1-0 victory
That win would propel the Clarets up the table to 5th now just one point behind Reading. Game on!
Reading though would now begin to fall from grace and once looking like strong automatic promotion contenders, come April it was clear that they would have to settle for a play-offs spot. In the end they finished just one point and one spot above the 5th placed Clarets so an intriguing battle in the Play-Offs semi final over two legs would now take place between the two clubs with the first leg at Turf Moor on Saturday 9th May 2009.
Owen Coyle selected the following team for the first leg opting for a 4-1-4-1 formation:
Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander, Eagles, McCann, Gudjonsson, Blake, Paterson
Subs: Penny, Jordan, McDonald, Rodriguez, Thompson
The Clarets put in a lacklustre performance if truth be known in this match. However they still managed to come away with a victory after Alexander scored a vital goal from the penalty spot late in the game. The Clarets would now take a one goal advantage to the Madejski Stadium. This was quite a mean feat considering how poorly we played and the fact that Reading had not been defeated away since January!
It was also a bad day for Royals defender and now Clarets player Andre Bikey. Not only was he responsible for tugging at Thompson`s shirt in the area that led to the penalty but after stamping on Blake right in front of the referee, he saw red and then the red mist when in a petulant display of anger he took off his shirt and threw it to the ground after being sent-off. The good news for the Clarets was that he would now miss the second leg.
One thing about Reading at the Madejski was their terrible home form which had effectively scuppered their chances of automatic promotion. The Berkshire side had not won on home soil since January 2009 and it had been a 2-1 defeat at home to Birmingham in their last match at the Madejski that had sealed their fate. That defeat ensured that it would be Birmingham and not Reading that would secure the 2nd place finish and last remaining automatic promotion spot.
It was clear therefore that the Clarets could have a significant psychological advantage as the two sides came out for the second leg on the night of Tuesday 12th May but it was still going to be tough.
In the end though it was a magical night and we enjoyed a 2-0 Clarets victory (3-0 on aggregate) thanks to two superb goals in the second half in the space of seven minutes, first by Paterson and then by Thompson.
On 51 minutes we got that vital opening goal in stunning fashion.
Paterson running down the right wing picked up a ball in midfield from Thompson. The Royals were completely bamboozled by Elliott who was the obvious player on the overlap to pick up a pass. Instead Pato drove inside and the Royals defence seemed to part like the waves. Paterson as the space opened up in front of him charged towards goal letting loose a thunderbolt from 32 yards out. Hahnemann could get nowhere near it as 2200 Clarets fans went wild after seeing the ball thunder into the back of the net.
Steve Coppell just had to do something desperate now to get back into this game needing three goals to ensure victory. He made an immediate triple-substitution bringing on Kitson, S.Hunt and former Clarets favourite, Glen Little. He needn`t have bothered. Clarets fans had hardly had time to catch their breath after that stunning first goal when seven minutes later; the Clarets went 2-0 up in an equally breathtaking fashion. Thompson winning a header on the corner of the box just had time to look up before letting rip with a scorching shot that went over Hahnemann and into the back of the net off the crossbar. Clarets fans were now definitely sure they could sing Que Sera and did!
That victory saw the Royals condemned to another season in the Championship and later that night looking for another manager after the resignation of Steve Coppell. By the way that was also the first time we had won at the Madejski Stadium since it opened in August 1998 so what a time to do it!
More importantly though for heaven`s sake was the fact that... Que Sera, Sera, whatever will be, will be, we`re going to Wemberley... and have the chance to reach the Premier League and play in the top flight for the first time in 33 years! What a great night but even better was to come!
If you want to read more about all the four games we played against Reading in this wonderful season you can do so by visiting our Match Archives and clicking these links:
Royals end Clarets Reign
Blake`s Beauty & The Beast
Clarets Edge Ever Closer to the Wembley Dream
Wembley is Our Heaven, Owen Coyle Our God!