You Can’t Always Get What You Want
It was Reading who got what they wanted yesterday in our 0-0 draw against them at the Madejski Stadium. As the Rolling Stones classic of that title blasted out at the final whistle, they were celebrating their home point against us.
We’ve failed to beat them this season, but that’s not a surprise to be honest, they are a side who were don’t beat that often, and our last league success in Reading was back in 1981 at Elm Park when Steve Taylor helped himself to a brace and Micky Phelan also scored. Even including the home games, we’ve only won seven in 34 league encounters in post-war football.
But this is one we probably should have won. We were the side that created the chances against a side that were happy to spoil and turn it into a scruffy game on a pitch that was, to be frank, in a terrible state with the blue rugby lines giving a clue as to how it has got into such a state.
It wasn’t Andre Gray’s day. He missed a chance in the very first minute of the game, saw another effort go wide after half time and then he missed the penalty that should have wrapped up the points.
Still, it wasn’t all bad on a day when I got the rare pleasure of listening to one of the greatest bands ever as I left the ground.
With my regular travellers giving this one a miss, it was a bus and two cars that got me there with the trip down involving me involuntarily trying new hats on, and there’s a warning to those involved should any photographs come to light.
It was a miserable day down there, damp and cold, nothing quite as bad as the weather we’ve had for a few home games recently but bad enough. After explaining how, to one Burnley fan in particular, that the word MESSAGEBOARD showing at the top left of the front page was how you got access to the message board, I was ready to take my seat to watch the unchanged Clarets look to push on towards a top two place with a good performance and result at Reading.
The starting eleven was unchanged; Fredrik Ulvestad retained his place in the bench in the continued absence of Dean Marney, and newest recruit James Tarkowski, sporting a pair of boots that bright you’ll need sun glasses when he plays, replacing Michael Duff amongst the substitutes.
The first of the big chances came in just the third minute. Sam Vokes and Scott Arfield combined down the left and Arfield played the ball in for George Boyd, who had a much better game. His ball across should have been turned in by Gray but he fired his shot over the bar from just inside the six yard box.
Reading hit the post soon after through Yann Kermogant. It was covered and hit the outside of the post before the move followed a regular pattern with a foul on Joey Barton. That, frankly, was as close as they came to causing us any trouble during the first half other than their attempts to spoil the game and break up play which was not helped by referee James Adcock who, at times, gave the impression that he didn’t have a clue what was going on.
We had half chances but none of them came to anything but just before half time Gray went on a dazzling run but seemed to opt to shoot rather than lay the ball across and the chance was gone.
It was no surprise that the half time whistle blew with no goals but that should probably have changed early in the second half when Lucas Piazon headed over with what really was their only clear cut chance of the afternoon.
Gray just failed to turn in a cross from the hugely impressive Matt Lowton and goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi had to tip a David Jones free kick onto his bar, but the talking point came with the award of a penalty for Burnley when Al-Habsi was deemed to have brought down Gray.
Chaos ensued as Reading players surrounded referee Adcock and even went across to the other side of the pitch to remonstrate with the assistant referee. From my vantage point, I thought Adcock had got it wrong; certainly Al-Habsi did. He said afterwards: “I wasn’t even near the player – I think it was a very clear dive. The way the fans and the players reacted to the penalty shows just how far away it was from a penalty.”
But it did not excuse the behaviour of Kermogant in the way he abused the referee and certainly not the shocking Hal Robson-Kanu who tried to do a one man operation of digging up the penalty spot.
Gray had to flatten it all down before he took the kick which was saved. It was a poor penalty, not let’s forget that, but Al-Habsi was some distance off his line. I did see some questioning Reading players encroaching; let’s be right on this one, there were at least five Burnley players who had encroached too as Gray took the kick, so we’ve no argument there.
There was still some time left and no doubt Burnley were not the most likely, but the only team likely to go on and win this, but we just couldn’t fashion another chance and Reading got blocks in and just about hung on.
We’ve certainly played better this season but this wasn’t a bad performance. We won’t come up against teams with Reading’s attitude most weeks and we won’t have to play on pitches that are in such a terrible state.
We lost a bit of ground with our near neighbours failing to give us a hand so we’ll have to rely on Leeds tomorrow whilst thanking the franchise in Milton Keynes for their efforts this week.
I’m not so sure we’ll have anything from the Stones next week but we will have Neil Warnock. I bet we get some Satisfaction – Start Me Up.
The teams were;
Reading: Ali Al-Habsi, Chris Gunter, Jordan Obita, Paul McShane, Cooper, Michael Hector, Oliver Norwood (Deniss Rakels 81), Stephen Quinn, Lucas Piazon (Garath McCleary 63), Hal Robson-Kanu, Yann Kermogant. Subs not used: Jonathan Bond, Anton Ferdinand, Evans, Barrett, John.
Yellow Cards: Hal Robson-Kanu, Jordan Obita.
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Rouwen Hennings 85). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Fredrik Ulvestad, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly.
Yellow Card: Joey Barton.
Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire).
Attendance: 16,773 (including 1,428 Clarets).
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