Royals end Clarets Reign
4th October 2008 @ 3pm
The Clarets run of nine games without defeat came to an end yesterday as high-flying Reading continued their impressive home form with a 3-1 victory.
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!
It is probably true to say though that Reading`s keeper had more to do than Jensen in this match. The Dane seemed to have just three things to do, all of them involving picking the ball out the back of the net!
It is tempting to blame the defeat on the jinx that is winning the Championship Manager of the Month Award. Owen Coyle of course got the dubious honour for our impressive climb up the table in September, a month in which we only dropped 2 points of the 15 available with four wins and one draw in the League. At the start of the match, the Clarets were in 4th place, our highest position for two years with Reading in third place. By the end of this game though we had dropped to 9th place, one of six clubs on 15 points with only goal difference keeping the Clarets from a top six spot.
So was this the case of the Manager of the Month Jinx?
Probably not, we were beaten fairly and squarely and to be honest 7 games in 21 days appeared to be taking their toll on the Clarets players. Our midfield in particular just couldn`t seem to stamp their authority with Joey Gudjonsson and in particular, Chris McCann looking shadows of their former selves.
If there was a jinx, it was the probably the MadeJINKi Stadium effect! We have yet to win at this ground and indeed you have to go back to the 11th April 1981 for the last time we beat Reading away from home. That day at Elm Park we had the reverse of yesterday`s score coming out 3-1 winners but that`s all history now.
Back to yesterday`s game then.
The Clarets as expected chose the same sixteen for the fourth time and the same starting eleven. Chris Eagles therefore had to be content with yet another bench warming as did Robbie Blake who must have been wondering if he could get on to play in his 200th match for the Clarets and also score for the first time in 23 league and cup games. An amazing barren spell!
The Clarets line-up was therfore:
Jensen, Jordan, Carlisle, Caldwell, Duff, Alexander, Gudjonsson, McCann, Elliott, Paterson, Thompson.
Subs: Penny, Mahon, Rodriguez, Blake, Eagles
Reading skipper James Harper had recovered from an ankle injury and was expected to possibly make a return but he was not named as the Royals lined-up with exactly the same sixteen as in their last match when they beat Wolves 3-0 at Molineux.
As mentioned previously, Leicestershire referee, Kevin Friend was in charge of this game and Clarets fans will have mixed feelings about this referee.
He was the referee in charge of our two away games against Watford and QPR last season, possibly two of our best games away from home of 2007/8 both leading to handsome victories. However he was also the referee that sent off Clarke Carlisle in our last match of that season away to Crystal Palace, a game we quickly had to forget going down 5-0 on the day!
The match got underway and ominously for the Clarets, the Royals scored in their first and only attack after 4 minutes of play. It was a soft goal as well and the Clarets should have done better in defending it. Brian Jensen had no chance from eight yards after Noel Hunt got a head to a deep cross from brother, Stephen following his dangerous run down the right.
Noel Hunt suffered a head injury in scoring his goal and spent three dazed minutes off the pitch whilst he appeared to have treatment for suspected concussion. He survived the ordeal but only temporarily and he was substituted later in the first half after 25 minutes.
The Clarets however, behind 1-0, now began to show the resilience of recent matches after going behind and began to have most of the possession in the first 15-20 minutes of the game but just couldn`t make it count. Our problems seemed to be midfield as mentioned previously and we also squandered a number of chances with weak dead ball play from corners and free kicks.
Joey Gudjonsson almost immediately after their goal thumped a free kick from distance but it went straight to Royals keeper, Marcus Hahnemann.
McCann was off target with a rising shot in the 19th minute and then Jordan`s shot in the 22nd brought out a one-handed save from Hahnemann for a corner. Caldwell was up in arms from the corner spotting a handball that failed to convince the referee as the Clarets tried in vain to get the equaliser.
Reading though were dangerous on the break and Jordan on 30 minutes got in a superb challenge to deny right back Chris Armstrong a goal after his a mazy run through the Clarets defence.
Thompson cleverly got into space on 34 minutes but should have done better with his shot on goal and four minutes later it was Thompson again who put pressure on Rosenior from a dangerous Paterson cross. The full back though headed against his own stanchion at the far post as the ball flew to safety.
The Clarets by now were looking the most likely to score and with one minute left in the first half, the strangely subdued McCann should have gone for goal himself instead of heading the ball back.
That was the last action of the first half though and despite being 1-0 behind, Coyle may well have been the happier of the two managers after the Clarets resilience and effort.
The Clarets made no changes to the side for the start of the second half and Reading started with more determination and grit to extend their lead.
It didn`t take them long as the Clarets came under pressure in the first five minutes of the match. Stephen Hunt on 50 minutes found himself in space six yards out from goal but somehow he headed over with the defence nowhere to be seen.
However 3 minutes later, it was 2-0 Reading. A deep cross from Kebe found Hunt who shaking off Duff headed home.
Duff was injured trying to stop the header and soon after had to be replaced. The Clarets reverted back to 4-4-2 with Alexander replacing Duff at right back and Chris Eagles coming on after 56 minutes. Paterson and Thompson tried to ensure Plan B worked upfront but it wasn`t to be their day, even when on occasion the Clarets seemed to be playing 4-2-4 in an effort to get something from the match.
Paterson however did manage to come close with an angled shot that brought out the best in Hahnemann before Blake came on for his 200th Clarets game replacing the lacklustre Thompson on 60 minutes.
Plan C however was not going to work either and on 64 minutes it was game over as the Royals extended their lead. Long made no mistake from a Kevin Doyle cross to put Reading 3-0 up, a score line that still probably flattered the Royals after a spirited attempt by the Clarets to keep in the game.
Eagles was still up for this game though and looked determined to earn him a starting eleven place next time. He cut inside from the right only to see his shot deflected to safety as the Clarets luck began to desert them. A reaction save from the Reading keeper to deny McCann from a corner continued to prove this was not going to be our day.
Blake then looked to be clear on goal but Paterson was back-tracking and collided with him just to add more misery for the Clarets fans.
The frustrated Paterson already booked for dissent must have been a cause for concern to Owen Coyle and he found himself replaced by Rodriguez on 76 minutes but the young striker had little time to affect the outcome of this match.
Reading were reduced to ten men with six minutes remaining. Having used all their substitutes, they were unable to patch up Kebe after he got a cut to his head.
However in the 89th minute the Clarets finally got some consolation. Eagles got in a cross from the right to find McCann who headed home to give Clarets fans something to cheer about at long last.
The misery however was complete for Clarets fans when in the dying seconds, Jordan was booked for the second time, ensuring he would miss the next match against Birmingham at home in two weeks time. Both yellow card though were fairly innocuous and the sending off was harsh to say the least.
On balance we tried hard but a mixture of off-key individual performances and some bad luck contributed to our fate.
There was some debate before this game whether the two week International break was coming up at the right time for the Clarets. On this performance, the answer is clearly yes. Our jaded troops need to regroup and refresh themselves for the battle ahead against league leaders, Birmingham on Saturday 18th October.
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.
Goals: Noel Hunt 4, Stephen Hunt 52, Long 64.
Burnley: Jensen, Duff (Eagles 56), Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Gudjonsson, Elliott, McCann, Paterson (Rodriguez 76), Thompson (Blake 60).
Subs Not Used: Penny, Mahon.
Sent Off: Jordan (90).
Booked: Paterson, Caldwell, Jordan.
Goals: McCann 89.
Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).
Nobody in the starting eleven would probably have scored more than an average mark but one person who came on from the bench, injecting some energy and spirit into the game was Chris Eagles.
He was really the only bright spot on a day when the Clarets failed to shine in so many departments. Eagles therefore gets our Star Player award even though he only played from the 56th minute after coming on to replace Michael Duff in the second half.