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15:42 11th April 2015

Honours even for Ryan's Royals

  • Reading sporting #RyansRoyals kit colours
  • Jem leads team out in first start for 570 days
  • Akpan's injury time header cleared off line
  • Point takes Royals 11 points clear of danger

The points were shared on a special oay for one young lad as a goalless affair was played out on the afternoon of our #RyansRoyals fixture.

Captain Jem Karacan led the team out for the first time since September 2013, his teammates wearing a one-off shirt specially designed by 14-yar-old Ryan Duval.

But the occasion wasn't capped with a goal, despite the home side's dominance and although Hal Robson-Kanu, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Jamie Mackie all came close to breaking the deadlock, the closest either team came was Hope Akpan's injury time header that was somehow scrambled off the Blackburn line.

The point takes Steve Clarke's men 11 points clear of the bottom three, with just five games of the league season remaining.

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Ake, Hector, Pearce Karacan (c) (Norwood 73), Chalobah, McCleary (Akpan 83), Robson-Kanu, Mackie, Pogrebnyak (Appiah 83)
Subs: Andersen, Cooper, Blackman, Yakubu.
Yellow: Robson-Kanu

Blackburn: Eastwood, Henley, Spurr, Kilgallon (c), Olsson, Cairney (Taylor 65), Spearing, Williamson, Marshall, Brown, Rhodes
Subs: Steele, O'Sullivan, Songo'o, Lenihan, Evans, Conway.
Yellow: Williamson.

Att: 17,564 (646 away)

First Half

The first chance of the match fell to the feet of Hal Robson-Kanu after superb work from Jamie Mackie down the right. He took his man on and found space to arrow a low cross into the middle where Robson-Kanu connected with it, but Simon Eastwood was down well to his right to claw the ball into his clutches.

A quarter of an hour played and Chalobah saw a right-footed drive charged down by a Blackburn body as it bulleted towards goal.

Then Mackie headed inches over the crossbar after McCleary had beaten two men down the left to float a cross over everyone in the middle an onto the head of his teammate at the far post.

Reading were keeping the ball well, passing it proficiently and playing the football in Blackburn's half, but Rovers were defending in numbers and restricting the Royals to few clear cut chances.

Chalobah tried his luck from range but curled a shot wide of the top right corner, then a nice exchange of passes saw Mackie feed McCleary who looked for a one-two inside the box with Robson-Kanu, but Blackburn did enough to break it down as it got intricate.

Mackie then beat Olsson to scurry inside from the right and earn a corner with a stabbed effort that was deflected behind. Pearce won the header from the set piece but Eastwood gathered easily in the air.

With minutes of the first half remaining, McCleary won the ball on half way and Pogrebnyak scuttled onto the loose ball down the left. With no-one in the middle, he picked out a cross to tee up Karacan who controlled and shot from 25 yards out, but a red body charged it down to deny the skipper a glorious return and Reading a perfect end to the half.

Hal fired an effort just over before the whistle could sound, and Mackie whipped a cross in for Pogrebnyak to slide onto with his marker, but Eastwood gathered it in and it remained goalless at the interval.

Second half

Blackburn started the second half the better, Jordan Rhodes winning a corner with a deflected header, then Ben Marshall's low shot almost finding a path through a crowded box before Pearce could clear.

McCleary led a couple of swift counter attacks to no avail, while Spearing arrowed a low effort into the box from a cleared Spurr long throw only to see it deflect harmlessly wide.

A brilliant back flick from Karacan set Mackie on his way to the byline but his cross whistled across the box without anyone getting a touch to it.

Adam Federici had to waft a Marshall cross over his bar but the second half showed little sign of bursting into life as both teams protected their clean sheet and a point.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, McCleary's inswinging corner was almost met by the right boot of Mackie in the middle, but instead it skidded behind for a goal kick. Then another McCleary set piece cannoned around the Rovers box before eventually being hacked to safety.

Gunter's cross from the right was just to high for Pogrebnyak in the middle, then the big Russian looked to break after McCleary had fed him in space. But a slip on the surface ended that move as Blackburn recovered in numbers.

With two minutes remaining, substitute Kwesi Appiah almost stole a goal, chasing down what looked like a lost cause but charging down an Eastwood clearance and the ball fizzing just wide of the red-faced Rovers keeper's goal.

A characteristic marauding Mackie run in from the right saw him shoot and the ball deflected wide for a corner. And in injury time that corner swung in to the far post and Akpan's header was somehow scrambled off the line to deny the hosts a win.