Reading FC Match Report: 2015/2016 Season - Championship
READING 0 BURNLEY 0
Although neither side managed to convert chances in to goals, this was a highly entertaining match. Burnley came to the Madejski looking to avenge their home defeat at the hands of the Royals earlier in the season and, more importantly, to pick up points to continue their extremely strong and credible challenge for automatic promotion. Unbeaten in their last eight league games, scoring eighteen, and only conceding three goals in that run, it was always going to be a tough fixture for the home side. Burnley had good chances to win the game, but so did Reading and ultimately they were probably happy with a point.
It looked ominous for Reading in the third minute when Burnley unlocked their defence with ease but Gray somehow scooped the ball over from a couple of yards. Far from being unnerved, Reading settled down to play some excellent football and dominate possession (60% over the whole match). Playing with an assured confidence which belied their recent run of results, the quality of passing from Reading forced Burnley to defend well prevented them from mounting any sustained pressure. Gunter was a perfect example. So often hesitant on the ball, he was laying off simple but effective one touch passes to allow Reading break swiftly out of defence. Kermorgant was singled out for some heavy and unfair challenges early in the game which should have resulted in at least a yellow card for Barton. Refusing to be intimidated Kermorgant went on to win just about every ball in the air and came close to opening the scoring with a downward header which had Heaton scrambling along the goal line to save. Robson-Kanu was getting the better of his full back and sent over some inviting crosses but nobody was able to apply the finishing touch. Just before half time Gray outpaced the Reading defence and might have gone down for a penalty but elected to stay on his feet under a slightly late challenge. (Perhaps someone had words with him at half time because he was later guilty of taking a blatant dive having gone clear of Al Habsi.)
At the other end Robson-Kanu raced in on goal and Heaton had to be rescued by a covering defender when it was clear he going to be second to the ball. Obita had a chance on the stroke of half time but failed to connect cleanly with ball and it was deflected for a corner. No goals but plenty of incident. Barton was not going to allow the half time whistle interfere with his mission to intimidate the opposition engaging in some banter with Quinn as the players went into the tunnel culminating in a provocative shove from the Burnley player. Barton had taken full advantage of the weakness of an inexperienced referee dishing out some ugly challenges and feigning injury to con the referee. It was only when he hit Quinn with a very late challenge in the second half did he finally receive the card he deserved.
Burnley as expected came looking for all three points after the interval but it was Reading that initially came closest to taking the lead. McShane gave the visitors as scare when he attacked the ball at the far post. Then, from the resulting corner, the ball was pushed back to Norwood who whipped in a superb cross. Unfortunately the unmarked Piazon was slow to react and consequently got underneath the ball and nodded it over the bar wasting what was probably Reading’s best chance of the game. At the other end Vokes missed an equally good chance failing to tuck away a low cross from close range. Al Habsi was nearly caught out by a Jones free kick near the corner which he managed to push onto the bar. Just before the hour mark the referee was taken in by Gray’s blatant dive and awarded a penalty. The reaction of the Reading players confirmed it was cheating and Robson-Kanu was shown a card for scuffing up the turf around the penalty spot. A brilliant save by Al-Habsi from Gray was greeted with same enthusiasm as a Reading goal. Justice had been served in the best possible way.
McCleary replaced Piazon and slotted in wide on the left allowing Quinn to take up a central role. He was soon involved in the action. Kermorgant won yet another header on the half way line and McCleary ran onto the ball before sliding a perfect pass through to Robson-Kanu. Had he been more composed he would surely have scored the winner, but with only Heaton to beat he was slightly off balance and lifted his shot just over the bar. Back came Burnley and it took typically resolute defending from McShane to keep Burnley out. First throwing himself to block a powerful drive from Jones and then getting back to snuff out a chance created when Cooper lost possession, his confidence exceeded his ability (and common sense), as he decided to dribble past a couple of Burnley forwards on the half way line. Reading threatened to produce a late winner but their passing let them down at crucial moments in stoppage time, probably due to fatigue setting in.
It was an encouraging performance from Reading, and the enforced changes present Brian McDermott with some selection dilemmas for the next few games. Hector was outstandingly effective in front of the back four and Quinn’s energy reminded everyone he is clearly one of the best players in the squad. Vydra hopefully will be fit next week and is a more dynamic player than Piazon who might benefit more from playing alongside Kermorgant. Reading have struggled to score in the league recently but have no such difficulty in the Cup. West Brom will be a tough team to break down but like today’s match it is game which could go either way.
This Championship game took place 643 days ago in the 2015/2016 season.