MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: -
Burnley: Paterson (51 mins), Thompson (58 mins).
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 19,909

Pos Team P Pts GD
2 Birmingham 46 83 +17
3 Sheff Utd 46 80 +25
4 READING 46 77 +32
5 Burnley 46 76 +12
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Pearce, Duberry, Harding, Kebe (Kitson 53), Gunnarsson, Matejovsky (Stephen Hunt 52), Tabb, Church (Little 53), Long. Subs Not Used: Federici, Cisse.
Burnley: Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Elliott (Eagles 84), Alexander, McCann, Paterson (Gudjonsson 71), Thompson (Rodriguez 79), Blake. Subs Not Used: Penny, McDonald.
Reading: Duberry, Kitson, Long.
Burnley: Kalvenes, Elliott.
Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).
Reading fans were finally put out of their misery tonight in a manner which mirrored their season. The opportunity was there, expectations were raised by a stirring first half performance, and then the massive disappointment of defeat followed. Pessimism had already reached a huge number of Reading fans before the game. In spite of having the chance to see their team secure a place in the play-off final 5000 fewer tickets were sold than last week. The selection of Church must have caught everyone by surprise especially Hunt and Kitson who I understand were both more that a little miffed at finding themselves on the bench.

The fans who had made the effort to support their team were in fine voice from the start and the team rose to the occasion. Kebe and Church showed some good touches on the flanks and Long was working very hard up front. Gunnarsson was moving the ball around well and making some excellent runs behind the Burnley defence. Matejovsky was having an indifferent game but still managed to pick out some superb passes. Burnley were clearly rattled by the ferocity of the Royals opening onslaught. The crucial opening goal almost came from Long when his powerful shot forced a good save from Jensen. Burnley issued a warning with a volley which was deflected just over following a rare sortie into the Reading half. Just before half time referee Riley who was having a typically poor game was guilty of an absolute howler. Jensen came flying out of his area to foil Long and handle the ball. A red card is often produced under those circumstances but Riley did not even book him.

Having played so well in the first half, expectations of good result for the Royals were high. Then against the run of play Burnley scored. Harding and Tabb could not make their mind up who should pick up Paterson wide on the left. While they sorted themselves out, the Burnley forward cut inside and swung his weaker foot from a long way out and the ball curled inside the far post. I suspect a more agile 'keeper ( like Federici for example) might have reached it. It stunned the home fans. Within seven minutes Thompson had repeated the treatment from the other flank and at that point it was all over. Reading never looked like scoring even with Kitson, Hunt and Little on in place of Church, Matejovsky and Kebe. There was still time for Long and Kitson to demonstrate why the team have struggled since January wasting good opportunities through a lack of composure at the crucial moment. Burnley might have added a third when Hahnmemann came for a ball he was never likely to reach and was very fortunate that the ball bounced wide of the unguarded net.

A small number of loyal fans cheered their team until to the end while significant number headed despondently for the car park. It was painful to watch the dying minutes of the game with Reading scampering around knowing their chance had gone and the season was over. Burnley celebrated as Reading contemplated another season in the Championship. The cause was not helped tonight by the absence of Noel Hunt, Ingimarsson, Doyle, Armstrong and Bikey. Steve Coppell feels there are a 100 reasons why Reading failed to win promotion but for me the main reason is that there are too many players in the squad who are simply not up to the job. Keeping possession is fundamental to success. Reading used to have players throughout the team with god touch and the ability to pass. Pearce stood out tonight because he was the only defender who looked comfortable on the ball. I lie Long for his honest endeavour by his touch often lets him down and along with Kebe, Hunt and Rosenior gave the ball away far too often. If Steve Coppell stays, and I hope he does, he must be given the resources to build a squad of better players.
John Wells

And so the curtain finally comes down on a deeply frustration season with a loss to Burnley in the play offs . It's been like a long lingering illness since January and I for one am glad the season is over but the news that Steve Coppell has stepped down comes with mixed emotions . What a great manager Sir Steve has been for Reading football club and we should all salute the man .I do feel though it's right we have a change of manager as Steve seemed to have not been a happy man for a while now and that has been painfully reflected on the pitch . It shows how far we've come when 4th place in the Championship is deemed a massive failure , but the fact is that this was our fourth attempt at the pay offs and all have ended in glorious failure . With Coppell going that should see the backs of many players and I don't really see the point of naming them as we all know who most of them are but suffice to say the starting eleven for the first game of next season should be unrecognisable . We need a new vibrant energetic passionate manager to take us on and probably rebuild a new team , my deep worry though is as long as JM remains as chairman and effectively the master of our destiny nothing will really change. JM has openly gone on record many times saying he wants to sell the club , what message does that say to everybody connected with the club and all the loyal supporters? Thanks for the memories Steve Coppell thanks for everything and who will ever forget that day at Leicester three years ago when having won promotion to the Premiership for the first time, Steve hurled his coat into the ecstatic Royals fans at the end of the game and we embarked on that fantasy season on the Premiership for the first time . Steve Coppell will always be legend in my mind and a good man , all the best mate .
Nick Newbury

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Steve Coppell last night resigned as Reading manager after the Championship club's hopes of securing an immediate return to the Premier League via the play-offs were shattered following defeat to Burnley. Coppell's future has been in doubt for some time and, although he refused to discuss his position with the media after the match, Reading issued a statement shortly after midnight confirming he would be standing down with immediate effect... His departure will leave a huge void to fill. He led the club into the top flight for the first time in their history in 2006, after Reading won the Championship with a record 106 points, and the following season secured an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League. At the end of both campaigns Coppell was voted League Managers' Association Manager of the Year. Reading's search for a replacement will start this morning, although finding a successor to Coppell promises to be a thankless task... Coppell will regret that his final match in charge turned out to be such a chastening experience. Two superb second-half goals from Martin Paterson and Steven Thompson secured Owen Coyle's side a comprehensive aggregate victory over Reading.
The Guardian

It was widely expected but perhaps not quite so swiftly. Little more than two hours after Reading had bowed out of the Coca-Cola Championship play-offs at the Madejski Stadium last night, Steve Coppell, their manager, resigned. Reading confirmed that Coppell had left - after five-and-a-half years at the Berkshire club - shortly after midnight.... Coppell had become disillusioned as he appeared increasingly unable to motivate a side that had been relegated from the Barclays Premier League the previous season. From seeming to be in line for automatic promotion, they slipped to a final fourth-placed finish and then exit at the hands of Burnley last night... For Reading, an abject closing run to the campaign of nine home matches without a win - seven in which they failed to score - ruled out a quick return to the top flight.
The Times