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Reading 2-2 Burnley

A good performance ultimately ended in disappointment, as an injury time winner for Brighton saw Reading finish seventh. However, this was the kind of performance that fans had expected all year, but, sadly, very rarely materialised.

Within a minute appeals for a penalty were turned down, as Jason Shackell handled in the area. I must admit that I was still coming into the ground so haven't seen the incident yet, but the consensus of those around me, and the opinions I've seen from twitter seem to be that the referee got it wrong.

A beautiful counter-attack, reminiscent of days gone by, saw McAnuff try to cut the ball across to Gunter, but Kieran Trippier managed to get to the ball first before turning the ball into his own net. A similar situation unfolded not long after, but this time the deflection hit the Burnley keeper. Obviously any win would have seen Reading finish in the top six, but the lead only last four minutes. A somewhat soft free-kick was taken quickly, which wasn't at all picked up from the home side. Before anybody could react the ball was pulled across the box, and blasted into the net. The defending was awful. I can point to similar goals at Bournemouth, and Doncaster where nobody gets a foot through it to clear. Very poor.

I'm not sure how many times this season it's happened, but within ten minutes the game had completely turned after conceding again. Danny Ings managed to somehow turn, and find the side-netting on the right side of the post to put Burnley into the lead. Again, it's a goal that's completely avoidable from a Reading point-of-view, but it also has a touch of class that Ings has shown so often this year. He was almost in again, but McCarthy stayed big after deciding not to dive at his feet.

For the first time this year Reading's heads didn't drop when they went behind, and kept going. A moment of absolute magic saw The Royals draw level, HRK - on for the injured ALF - won the ball in the air, before McCleary unleashed a shot from twenty yards which flew into the top corner. Unbelievable quality that has so often been lacking.

From there Pogrebnyak had a chance to win it, the ball crossed in low, and the Russian put the ball back across the keeper and into the corner - but a Burnley defender somehow stopped the ball from crossing the line. Then McCleary was through one-on-one, but could only hit the keeper with his shot. It's something that McCleary could do better, having another similar chance against Leicester but not taking that either.

There were many positives today, we looked much more potent than at many times in the season, although on the other hand we should have been more clinical with chances. I think Leigertwood's influence has been vastly underestimated by some, because today he was a great influence on the game - and Akpan seems to benefit from his presence too. Plus it shows that McCleary and McAnuff on both wings are a handful for anybody.

Unfortunately late pressure couldn't be converted to a goal, and when the screen went blank it was clear that Sky had cut away to the other game - especially when Adkins beckoned McCarthy forwards. It's unfortunate that Brighton managed to somehow find a winner, but as most people after the game were saying it wasn't the result today but a failure to beat poor teams, coupled with numerous other factors. The summer rebuild could be painful, especially with the ownership situation, and that's the next challenge that Reading face.

The only thing I'll say about the pitch invasion at the end was that it was pathetic, and embarrassing.

It's a shame, but it wasn't unexpected.

edit - somebody on Hobnob mentioned corners and I had totally forgotten. It's like we only have one routine nowadays, put the ball onto Pearce's head at the back post, who puts it back across goal. I don't think I've seen a goal from a set-piece like that for as long as we've been doing it - although it did cause Burnley a few problems today. Thought we always used to look much more dangerous with variation, and especially the whipped ball into the near post. Any team at all that watch the tapes should be able to easily defend us.


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