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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Reading 1 - Burnley 0

Madejski Stadium

Friday 17th February 2012 @8pm Kick-Off

Attendance: 17,185

Frustration in The Mad Defeat

Burnley battled hard to get something against an in-form Reading team at the Madejski Stadium last night. It was a frustrating game for the Clarets though and a goal from former Blackburn Rovers striker, Jason Roberts in the 11th minute was enough to give the Royals all three points and the double over the Clarets this season.

Reading are very much our bogey team, especially at the Madejski. We may have won the most important game there in recent times when we beat them 2-0 in the play-offs semi-final second leg back in May 2009 but that is our only victory on this ground since it opened in August 1998 and the Royals have now won all five games against us, home and away since we booked our place at Wembley.

Everything it seemed was against the Clarets again in last night's clash despite putting in a pretty impressive performance and clearly dominating possession. Burnley also hit the woodwork twice at crucial times in the match but in the end could simply not break down a solid, Reading defence.

The game rearranged to Friday night so Sky Sports could feature the match live was at times a bad tempered affair not helped by a referee determined to show yellow cards for the softest of tackles. In the end seven players were booked, four of them Clarets! Darren Deadman, the referee was at times inconsistent and to some degree Burnley were lucky not to lose Rodriguez for a straight red foul in the second half and Wallace for a second bookable offence. In the end both survived with just a yellow card booking.

Burnley came storming out of the blocks and for the first ten minutes played some of the most impressive football I have seen all season. We were simply sublime with our passing game and crossing wonderful to watch. Reading simply did not know what had hit them and all the pressure nearly paid off as early as the 7th minute when Josh McQuoid on a jinxing, mazy run finally put over a superb cross to find Charlie Austin. The former Swindon striker made contact with his head and the ball looked certain to fly into the back of the net until it hit the woodwork and came back off the bar to safety. It was Reading though who then took the lead very much against the run of play, four minutes later. Roberts curled home a Jobi McAnuff cross to give the Royals an undeserved lead and Burnley`s pressure then began to wane with the match becoming a much more open affair. It was clear that a second goal could be decisive for either team but whilst the score remained at 1-0, there was always a chance Burnley could get back on level terms and go on to win the match. We tried our hardest, but it just wasn`t going to happen.

If Burnley had a weakness it was trying to contain both Reading wingers. Jobi McAnuff was supposedly not going to be fit for this clash but the Royals kidology appeared to pay off after he made the starting eleven despite the media being told he had a hernia problem ahead of the game. The Clarets always seem to have problems keeping Jimmy Kebe quiet and once again they failed in that task last night. Both full-backs had a torrid time trying to stop the Royals flankers.

In the second half, Rodriguez struck a header against the post from a Ross Wallace corner and at that point all Clarets fans sensed it was going to be one of those nights. Howe tried to up the ante by freshening up the attack in the 68th minute after bringing on Paterson for Austin and Ings for McQuoid but it lead to few chances being created. Reading just simply stood strong and soaked up all the pressure. Any chance of getting something from the game evaporated and the defeat makes a significant dent in our play-offs hopes. This morning bearing in mind all the Saturday games are still to be played, we remain in 10th spot four points behind sixth placed club, Birmingham who also have a two game advantage. We could be seven points adrift of the play-offs positions by the time we know all the results of today`s matches and those coming up in midweek. It is becoming a mountain to climb but it is still not an impossible task especially with three of the next four games being played at home. Come on you Clarets!

The Line-Up

Eddie Howe made just one change to the sixteen selected for the Barnsley match at Turf Moor in midweek. There was a welcome return for Martin Paterson who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury since the Middlesbrough game at the Riverside back in January. He was named on the bench with the unfortunate Kieth Treacy missing out completely.

Thankfully, Kieran Trippier who had been troubled with a back injury since the Tykes clash passed a late fitness test and was named in the starting eleven.

We therefore lined up as follows:

Grant , Trippier , Duff, Edgar , Mee , Wallace , McCann , Marney , McQuoid , Rodriguez , Austin

Substitutes: Jensen, Easton, Bartley, Ings, Paterson

Full Match Report

We always knew it would be hard to come away from the Madejski with any points playing against the in-form team of this division. The Royals were aiming to finish the night in third place having won six of their last seven games at home. Reading had also won their last three games on the bounce and were looking for a fourth consecutive victory. However, the Clarets boasted the best away record in the Championship and were also in pretty good form as well as seeking their ninth league win on the road this season. Burnley had kept seven clean sheets in the last ten games but then so had Reading. The stage was set therefore for an intriguing game and it was the Clarets who made the biggest statement in the first ten minutes of the match.

Josh McQuoid just failed to latch on to a cross from Trippier in the 5th minute following some splendid approach work with the ball flying just too far in front of him. Two minutes later, McQuoid was again in the action, this time bursting down the left flank to get over a superb cross. Austin was ideally placed and unmarked he rose up to head the ball only to see the crossbar come to Reading`s rescue. The Clarets were in impressive form during these early stages playing some of the most attractive football of the season but it was a cruel blow when against the run of play Reading opened the scoring on 11 minutes.

It was in effect their first meaningful attack of the game and you have to say that the Burnley defence gave the Royals far too much time and space on the ball. Royals` skipper, Jobi McAnuff clearly had no hernia problems after putting over a low cross into the box. Our back four were caught out and looked flat-footed as Jason Roberts from twelve yards out shot into the top corner of the net to give Reading a 1-0 lead. It was a sucker punch and a bitter blow from which we never really recovered despite playing well and enjoying the lion`s share of possession. Burnley had yet to draw a game away this season but an equaliser was now their first target.

The home side though were now playing with far more confidence after taking the early lead and Burnley found it hard to break them down with the game now becoming much more even. The Clarets however were still looking lively putting together some nice passes and testing the Royals back-four. In the 27th minute, a long range effort from Rodriguez flew past Federici just wide of the right hand post. A free kick from Ross Wallace then wreaked havoc in the Reading defence but no Burnley player could latch onto the ball and the Royals managed to scramble the ball away to safety.

Reading seemed happy to let Burnley come at them now and they looked comfortable in defence, whilst dangerous on the break. The Royals have had the knack this season of holding on to leads going on to win eleven of the twelve games when they were 1-0 up. You could see why based on their style of play in this match. Burnley had enjoyed 57% possession in the first 30 minutes of this match but had little to show for it with clear cut chances few and far between. On the break, Reading continued to look threatening especially down the flanks with McAnuff and Kebe giving our full backs a pretty torrid time.

Burnley were quite neat and tidy in midfield but it was the final third where we struggled to make an impression with the final ball often going astray.

Three minutes from the end of the first half, McCann should have done better with a half-chance but he sliced his attempted volley well wide of target. Burnley then suffered a scare just before half-time after Grant spilled an Ian Harte free-kick and a scramble in the box ensued. Hunt looked like he was about to tap home before a brave Ben Mee lying prone in the six yard box threw his head and face desperately at the ball. The contact he made was enough to send the ball spinning over the bar much to the relief of Clarets fans. It was 1-0 to the Royals then at half-time with Burnley clearly having a frustrating time out there despite finishing the half having had 55% of the possession. It was also worrying that referee, Darren Deadman appeared to be handing out yellow cards for soft tackles. Both Duff and Wallace were booked in the last five minutes of the half. Wallace did not deserve his after a pretty innocuous challenge although Duff had no option but to 'take one for the team' to quote Sky Sports!

Neither Brian McDermott nor Eddie Howe made any changes to their team for the start of the second-half. Once again though, it was Burnley who started the brighter with the Royals riding their luck at times. Within one minute of the restart, Burnley had nearly equalised. Austin threw off the challenge of Gorkss with just the keeper to beat but somehow Federici pulled off a remarkable block to deny the former Swindon striker.

In the 48th minute Jay Rodriguez was lucky to escape with just a yellow card and Clarets fans watching the Sky Sports replay could see for once that the luck was with us.

Burnley`s luck though deserted them again when in the 51st minute the woodwork came to the Royals rescue once more. Rodriguez who was lucky to still be on the pitch, got in a thumping header from a Wallace corner but the right hand post got in the way with Federici well-beaten. It just wasn`t going to be our night was it, with the second half now threatening to follow the same pattern as the first?

A melee ensued in the 66th minute with both Burnley and Reading players threatening each other with the referee closely watching on trying to break up the fracas. It ended with both Marney and Gorkss being shown yellow as the card count mounted.

Two minutes later, Howe decided to make a double substitution in an effort to liven up our attack. Paterson came on to make his first appearance since picking up a hamstring injury in the away victory at Middlesbrough back in January. He replaced a flagging Austin. Danny Ings also came on to make only his second first team appearance of the season following a cartilage injury last August in training and his debut against Barnsley in midweek. Josh McQuoid made way for the former Bournemouth striker after fading badly following his promising start.

It was the Clarets though who were quickly on the back foot after Jimmy Kebe got in a looping header over Grant following a cross. It looked like our death-knell until Trippier in the right place at the right time made a goalline clearance with his head to keep the game alive.

Burnley now had three strikers on the pitch but still found opportunities limited. It was fast becoming a 'nearly night` for the Clarets. In the 73rd minute, Paterson`s attempted half-volley beat the Royals keeper but the ball flew frustratingly just over the bar.

On came Bartley in the 79th minute to replace an effective, but now tiring Marney with Burnley now trying everything to find that elusive equaliser. Clarets fans hopes were slightly raised when five minutes of added time were announced but somehow you just felt Reading were going to hold on. There was just time for one final throw at the dice for Burnley when Rodriguez after a neat one-two had a good chance to score from the edge of the box. It summed up Burnley`s night though when 'one of our own` curled his shot wide.

Yes, indeed a night of frustration all round for the Clarets with our luck deserting us for most of the . Make no mistake though this was a very solid, impressive performance at times and Burnley certainly deserved something for their effort and hard work.

The Post-Match Eddie-Torial

The gaffer said after the game:

'We started the game really well. In the first half we were very good, passed the ball well and created enough chances to have taken something from the game.

'We sliced Reading open at times, perhaps in the final third our quality wasn't at our usual standard, but be fair to Reading they defended the lead very well in the second half.

'We've performed well against all the top sides and we're getting better every game. We're progressing as a team and the lads are really starting to believe in themselves.'

Match Stats

Reading: Federici, Connolly, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff (Robson-Kanu - 80), Kebe, Hunt, Roberts (Le Fondre - 76)

Subs Not Used: Andersen, Tabb, Cywka

Goal: Roberts 11

Booked: Yellow cards for Gorkss, Roberts, Hunt

Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Wallace, McCann, Marney (Bartley - 79), McQuoid (Ings - 68), Rodriguez, Austin (Paterson - 68)

Subs Not Used: Jensen, Easton

Booked: Yellow cards for Wallace, Duff, Rodriguez, Marney, Ings

Possession: 47% Reading, 53% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)

Ref: Darren Deadman (Cheshunt)

Star Player

This was a strange night with many players initially impressing then fading badly most notably Josh McQuoid who looked lively and influential in the first-half especially in the early stages. Kieran Trippier looked the most impressive in defence with Ben Mee arguably the bravest after risking a head-kicking to save the day. Both though got the runaround from the Reading wingers.

Jay Rodriguez was probably the best striker we had on the pitch although Charlie Austin had his moments and should have scored a couple of times before becoming another player that faded in the second half. Rodriguez though was lucky not to pick up a red card from an inconsistent referee who handed out yellow cards for soft tackles and yellow cards for probable reds!

Dean Marney, yet again was commanding in midfield and once more he picks up the Star Player award; his second in a week following an impressive performance against Barnsley at Turf Moor on Tuesday night. His energy and drive continues to stand out.




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The Journalist

Writer: turfmanphil Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday February 18 2012

Time: 9:09AM

Your Comments

You just sense it's slipping away folks! That early season poor form could be our undoing not to mention dropping some vial points on homesoil! We always seem to be about 3-4 points off the pace but considering we were within 15 minutes of dropping into the relegation zone against Hull back in November we have made remarkable progress since. looks like midtable mediocrity at the moment though and the parachute payments will be reduced by half next season. :-(
turfmanphil
I think your pessimistic nature is failing to appreciate the reality of what on another night could have been a resounding victory. 'Mediocrity' is a bizarre way to describe the way we are playing, albeit with some inconsistency. I suggest you have a bit of faith in your team, their excellent boss and a set of players who are competing very well with the very best in this most competitive of leagues. Watch this space, we will be in the playoffs and I for one think losing somewhere in them will be no bad thing, with a push forwards next season to automatic. You just need to have a little faith. 'Mediocrity', oh dear...
Mike Mada
Bit of an over-reaction there, Mike. You can however have as much blind faith as you want but there is nothing which would gaurantee your optimism If we finish midtable,it is mediocre, simple as. It's always tomorrow with you guys never the here and now. To succeed we need many 'on another nights'. The reality is we could be seven points off the pace by the end of this weeks games. With a good run of course, we cant rule anything out but in the cool,light of day and without carrying any emotional baggage, it looks like we will have a pretty steep mountain to climb and thats all I was saying.
turfmanphil
we didn't have enough quality in the last 3rd imo, Austin and jay should have scored but both lacked the the quality when needed,
Totally_Claret
I'm thinking somewhere in the middle beteen Mikes half full and Phils half empty glass. We can still make the play offs there are loads of points to play for yet Phil shedloads. And Burnley are playing well. Hope you prove to be right Mike about the play offs, But we will need to win the majority of our remaining games to make it. Whatever things are looking good for next season.
Grimsby Claret
GC I fear we said the same last season when we finished 8th! We have to do it next season without the full parachute payments! Yes, you might be right but there is a fairly equal chance you might also be wrong without significant investment in new players bearing in mind we will also probably lose Jay Rod. Getting promotion this season would avoid a number of obstacles which face us next season, but i don't feel we have enough in our locker to achieve it. I will gladly be proven wrong
turfmanphil
I thought we played well last night (here it kicked off at 4am) but needed a bit of luck
ozjean
The team is very young and will only get better as Eddie moulds it into a very good side. I don't think we will go up this season, though we have booked our trip to the UK next month to cover the play-offs! I am sure we will be up there though. Up the Clarets! [Edited by turfmanphil]
ozjean
Dont worry,sorted OJ
turfmanphil
Disappointing that three good attempts did not go in but the football we played at times was sublime. I am not too disappointed if we do not make it this year as I honestly do not think we are good enough yet for the Prem and I cannot see the Board investing in what we would need to stay up. Next season should be a different story, Eddie's youngsters are going from strength to strength and by then will have gained the experience to be serious contenders for automatic promotion. I have to applaud the commitment shown, I have never before seen a block tackle made with the head.
cornwallclaret
Good start and if Big Charlie - who was carrying my 5 first scorer bet - had headed his first chance in it could have been a different story. Reading are a good side and we matched them for most of the night but it wasn't to be. I still think we have a chance of squeezing a play-off place but so do many other teams. We probably need a bit of luck now and for some of those sides above us to have a spell of bad-form. Still, whatever league we play in next year I'll still go to games and enjoy lively banter afterwards on VB. Vital Burnley that is, not Victoria Beckham. Dreadful woman.
RickersTwickers
Good to hear EH is building a good team and we are playing well. But come the end of the season if we don't go up, what will remain of the team by the time August comes around?
pmh200111
I'm with Mike. In fact I like the way this team are building given the way we lost key players at the start of the season and their inexperience. Every move that EH makes seems to add more depth to the squad. The loss of key players is a way of life almost but it isn't the end of the world.
AndyHo
Building doesn't tend to get you promotion quick enough though which under the current climate worries me with the FIFA Fair Play ruling kicking in next season and the parachute payments dwindling. There will be even more pressure next season to get promotion before the crowds and revenue start to dwindle even more. If so we will find ourselves in a viscious circle unless we see evidence of the purse strings being released more.
turfmanphil
Agree TMP but with the cards we've been dished out over the last 3 years I can't realistically see how we could have improved on what we have now. Reading were struggling to contain us for a lot of the game and I doubt that they will have many tougher home games this season. On top of that I sense (could be imagination) a loyalty both to EH and themselves among the team that I can't remember seeing for a few years either - especially to themselves..
AndyHo
The play was so good, I've watched the highlights twice now, though i don't think they do it justice. We don't want to become an Arsenal (and I mean the good old Arsenal, not the crap new one) and be 'too' good. So, the work on down and dirty to win a game needs some focus to add to the wonderful ball play on Friday. Mediocre, this team ain't!
Mike Mada
One definition of mediocre-neither very good nor very bad; ordinary; average! Think that sums us up at the moment especially if we finish midtable and below last season's 8th!
turfmanphil
...another is 'medium to inferior', which I don't believe. In fact I believe that your definition is not a fair representation either, more generous though it is. Summing up where we are, in the middle of a developing team, as mediocre gives little impression of the performance against Reading, even though we lost. It was hardly 'average', 'mediocre' or 'inferior'. It was excellent and taking that and recent other performances into account, the excellence will become more consistent and the goals will come. I was especially impressed with Ben Mee's comments that he found Kebe a bit of a surprise and that 'I will learn from that'. Although a great admirer of Michael Duff, I hope he learns too from the way Roberts found 5 yards off him for the goal. Mee also had a moment of madness late in the game when he lost the ball, fortunately to no harm. These are fine lines that define success and I hope Eddie and the boys will be working on them this very morning - then 'excellence' will be the word, and we won't be debating the definition of 'mediocre'.
Mike Mada
Developing team which at the moment is mediocre! Think back to the awful games we have played this season, they balance out the good ones. We never turned up against Saints and the two recent home games against Derby and Posh were dire, And another thing read my article I do not mention we were mediocre against Reading but rather unlucky having put in a generally good performance. The only time I mention mediocre is in the following statement below the article- 'we have made remarkable progress since. Looks like midtable mediocrity at the moment though and the parachute payments will be reduced by half next season' Even then I said 'looks like', which for a team in the Prem not so long ago and Kilby saying 8th place was a failure last season is pretty magnanimous on my part. We could have been more than 'developing' this season had we invested in a stronger squad. That is highlighted quite clearly by the fact that we have no cover for Trippier at right back and would struggle if out [Edited by turfmanphil]
turfmanphil
CC Says-' I am not too disappointed if we do not make it this year as I honestly do not think we are good enough yet for the Prem and I cannot see the Board investing in what we would need to stay up. Next season should be a different story...' What though would make the Board change their stance financially if we got promoted next season rather than this? Wouldn't they still not invest, would we still not be pleading poverty? What would change?
turfmanphil
In fairness to Mee Mike - I think it was only the game situation which led to him trying the backpass. More often than not I believe the ball would have gone into the stand.
Claretdale
 

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