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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
17:15 3th January 2011

Report: Long brace wins it

Reading 2 (Long 31, 68)
Burnley 1 (Wallace 28)


For the second successive time at home, Reading came from behind to take three points in an enthralling encounter with Burnley.

Ross Wallace had opened the scoring in the 28th minute, driving home Tyrone Mears' cut back to make it 1-0.

But the Clarets' lead lasted only three minutes - Shane Long raced onto a lovely flick from Noel Hunt on half way, and with only the keeper to beat he calmly passed the ball wide of Grant and into the bottom right corner.

The Royals lay siege on Burnley's goalmouth for the opening stages of the second half and came agonisingly close to taking the lead through Kebe, Long, Harte, Hunt and Mills - but it wasn't until Long thundered home Jobi McAnuff's corner in the 68th minute that the hosts had the lead they deserved.

Burnley twice hit the woodwork - the second of which saw Ross Wallace slam an injury time free kick against the crossbar - but Reading rightly hung onto all three points.

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Griffin, Harte, Mills (c), Pearce; Karacan (Robson-Kanu 66), Leigertwood, Kebe, McAnuff; Hunt (Church 72), Long
Subs: McCarthy, Cummings, Khizanishvili, Howard, Tabb.
Yellow: Kebe (unsporting behaviour 79)

Burnley (4-2-3-1): Grant; Mears, Easton (Iwelumo 85), Duff, Carlisle (c); Cork, Marney (Rodriguez 72); Wallace, Elliott, Eagles; Thompson (Guidetti 79)
Subs: Jensen, Bikey, Edgar, Alexander.
Booked: Thompson (foul 4), Mears (foul 53), Duff (foul 57)

Ref: G Scott
Att: 16,151 (891 away)

Starting XI team news
Reading made four changes to the team that faced Swansea, bringing back fit agan Jobi McAnuff and Mikele Leigertwood, as well as Noel Hunt and Jem Karacan. Jay Tabb, Brian Howard, Hal Robson-Kanu and Simon Church were all on the bench as a result.

Click here to see the teamsheet from the game.

First half
Reading started the better of the two sides, and Shane Long had a couple of half chances early on, first with a tough bouncing ball from a tight angle, then a good flicked header went wide of the upright. Neither chance was easy for the in-form Irishman as we made a good start.

Burnley then had a golden opportunity to open the scoring, Dean Marney shooting straight at Adam Federici when unmarked after a nice team move.

Jobi McAnuff, back in the team after illness, then did very well to beat his man and get in a good shot from the edge of the box; Lee Grant saving well and Long inches from the rebound.

Marney then had another very good opportunity, winning a challenge with Mikele Leigertwood inside our area but curling wide with the whole goal to aim at - it was end-to-end stuff.

We were then denied what seemed a stonewall penalty, McAnuff clearly pushed over by Tyrone Mears inside the box. McAnuff was livid that nothing was awarded, and remonstrated long and hard with the official, as well as Mears himself.

On the half hour, the deadlock was broken. Tyrone Mears skipped down the right flank and cut the ball back for Ross Wallace in space 28 yards out. He took a touch and drilled a right-footed effort through a crowded Royals box and past Federici for the opener.

But two minutes later, Reading were level. A sublime flick from Noel Hunt decieved the entire Clarets back line and Shane Long read it beautifully. He bore down on it and only had Grant to beat, passing it coolly wide of the keeper and inside the bottom right corner. December's Player of the Month had begun January with a goal for the home fans to cheer.

Again,the response was almost immediate. Another cut back ball from Burnley's right found Dean Marney 15 yards out and his first time right-footed swing at the ball cannoned off the inside of Federici's left post and away to safety.

And with 7 minutes of the half remaining, Long broke at pace at the other end. He lost possession but Noel Hunt retrieved it, only for his low cross to fizz untouched across the six yard box and wide.

As 3 minutes of added time were signalled on the sidelines, two superb flick ons from Long, then Hunt, found Kebe racing clear and one on one with Grant. But a linesman's flag cut the Malian's stride short as he rounded the Clarets keeper with an offside decision that must have been tight.

Second half
Two minutes after the restart, Reading saw a wonderful chance go begging. Kebe ghosted past his man on the right and scurried in along the byline. He fizzed a low cross past Grant and into the six yard box, but Hunt and Carlisle fought each other off as they tried to get a decisive touch - neither did and it skidded agonisingly away from danger.

Three minutes later a good chance carved from nothing. Jem Karacan launched a stunning ball forward and Long brought it down beautifully to go in on goal. Grant came out and Long was tripped as his shot, the ball bobbled wide of the far post and Long was denied a penalty. But Reading were firing on all cylinders.

Brian McDermott's men were hugely on top. Ian Harte became the latest to whistle a low strike just wide of the Burnlely goalmouth on the hour.

But Stuart Gray's side looked capable with the ball down the other end - Chris Eagles nodded goalwards but Federici saved well low to his left on his goalline.

Somehow, Burnley's goal continued to lead a charmed life. Long burst down the left and cut the ball back for Kebe, who drove low and hard towards the bottom left corner, only for a Burnley heel on the line to deflect it wide of the target.

But with 20 minutes left, their luck ran out. McAnuff swung a lovely corner into a crowded box and Long sent a bullet header ppast Grant from close range. An unstoppable header from a man in great form. The fans cheered his name and Reading had the lead for the first time in the game.

Burnley could have been level though moments later. Breaking down the right, a floated cross to the far post was nodded down by Thompson for Marney to swing a left leg at. Only 8 yards out, he half-volleyed it wide when it seemed certain he would make it 2-2.

With ten minutes to go, it was the home side looking for another. Leigertwood won the ball in midfield, fed Church out wide and the striker chipped a thoughtful ball to the far post, finding Kebe. His volley looked goalbound, but it cannoned into a Burnley body and behind for a corner.

Gray threw on three strikers, aiming to steal a draw - Jay Rodriguez, John Guidetti and Chris Iwelumo entering the fray as time ticked on. And Federici had to pull out a brilliant fingertip save to turn Eagles low left-footed stab round his post in the dying stages.

But Church thought he'd put the game to bed when turning McAnuff's ball home in injury time - only to see his effort ruled out for offside.

And Reading almost paid the price for not putting the result beyond doubt; Ross Wallace stepped up and curled a sublime 25-yard free kick over the wall and against the crossbar in injury time.

The final whistle sounded soon after and Reading had a home win to start 2011 off with a bang! Shane Long will take a lot of the plaudits for a wonderful display up front - but the whole team performed admirably against a side who were top flight last season.
    Data provided by Press Association