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17:01 30th October 2010

Report: Unbelievable fightback earns win

Reading 4 (Mills 10, Karacan 59, Harte 73, Church 88)
Doncaster 3 (Hayter 25, Martis 41, Shiels 47)

The Royals won an unbelievable game 4-3 at Madejski Stadium, coming back from 3-1 down to win all three points.

We started well and Matt Mills scored against his former club early on, and we had some very good first half chances but came in at half time 2-1 down, then went further behind just after the break as Doncaster played some good football.

But Brian McDermott and his team refused to lie down, and a bold double substition proved a masterstroke. Sub Noel Hunt set up Jem Karacan to make it 3-2, and then Ian Harte curled home a brilliant equaliser with a free kick.

Late sub Michail Antonio then squared for fellow sub Simon Church to guide home with two minutes left, sealing a quite sensational win.

Full credit goes to the manager, players and supporters as all played a signicant part in this victory. The character, resolve and most of all quality we showed in that last 30 minutes was of the highest order, and it was a sensational afternoon's entertainment as we moved up to sixth in the npower Championship table.

Afternoons like this show why we love the game, and more so why supporters love Brian McDermott's philosophy of going for victory in any match, at any situation. At 3-1 down many teams would have caved in, and they always say teams reflect their manager so long may that be the case as we continue reflect the boss' mantra of taking three points at any cost.

Reading: Federici; Griffin, Harte, Khizanishvili, Mills (c); Karacan, Howard, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu (Antonio 82), Tabb (Church 55); Long (Hunt 55)
Subs: McCarthy, Cummings, Pearce, Armstrong
Booked: Hunt (dissent 90)

Doncaster (4-2-3-1): Sullivan; Dumbaya, Mills, Martis, O'Connor; Oster (Hird 69), Stock (c); Shiels (Webster 87), Coppinger, M Woods; Hayter
Subs: G Woods, Chambers, Thomas, Wilson

Attendance: 15,553 (566 away)

Ref: G Hegley

Starting XI team news
The Royals were unchanged from the previous week, and Chris Armstrong was back on the bench. Jimmy Kebe missed out through injury. Download our full teamsheet here.

First half
The Royals started very brightly, and got straight onto the front foot. After good pressure in the opening exchanges we took the lead and it was perhaps inevitable that Matt Mills, against his former team, would be the man to open the scoring.

Brian Howard whipped in a good free kick from the left, and after a number of players went up for the initial header, it fell to Mills to tap in from a yard.

Shane Long was giving the visiting defence a difficult start to the game, and he cut in well from the right hand side but never quite had the right angle and hit the side netting as he bore down on goal. We continued to press, and were dictating the early tempo.

But, with their first meaningful effort, Doncaster equalised. A neat move gave them a crossing opportunity down the right, and James Hayter guided a nice header across Adam Federici and in.

We had a fantastic chance to get back in front soon afterwards when Long's flick sent Jay Tabb through on goal. He was one-on-one with Neil Sullivan, and tried to go round him, but kept it too close to the keeper and he was able to save.

Then Long had a very good chance from Ian Harte's free kick, and although he got a great contact on it, his effort went agonisingly wide of the upright.

We were left to rue those chances as Doncaster began to look more comfortable in possession and kept the ball well. They then took the lead, a free kick finding defender Shelton Martis, who turned home from close range. The initial decision to award a foul against Brian Howard looked a touch harsh, but it remained uncharacteristic for us to concede from a set piece in this manner.

Second half
Doncaster started the second half in a buoyant mood and extended their lead just after the break as Dean Shiels capitalised on an uncharacteristic touch from Harte inside his own half and turned home a very nice finish.

But, even at 3-1 down, we never stopped believing.

Simon Church and Noel Hunt were thrown on in a bid to get us back into the game, and my goodness how we responded.

Hunt supplied an excellent cross for Jem Karacan to head home just before the hour, and the entire momentum of the game changed instantly.

We were winning all the second balls and causing Rovers untold problems. Hal Robson-Kanu had a great chance from a Harte free kick but headed over from close range.

We continued to press, and with 17 minutes to go, we won a free kick in a central position roughly 20 yards out. When Harte stepped up to curl home an absolute stunner the place went wild.

Rovers boss Sean O'Driscoll claimed the ball went out of play a good few seconds before the free kick was awarded, but TV replays suggest a good part of the ball remained on the line.

Then, with just two minutes to go, sub Michail Antonio got in down the left on a lovely Brian Howard pass and squared for Church to tap home.

Church is making a habit of scoring goals from the bench, and this was his third as a substitute, and that's four points he has earned for the team in the process. Credit also goes to Antonio for a positive impact in the final stages and a neat ball across to set up the winner.

In injury time Rovers had a good chance when Martis shot wide from a free kick, and there were great scenes of celebration at full time.

It was a real rollercoaster of game, and in conceding three goals we obviously cannot call it a perfect performance - but frankly who cares when you win 4-3! The resolve, bottle and character were superb, and the quality as well. Now roll on QPR....!

    Data provided by Press Association