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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
16:37 13th February 2016

Ali saves spotkick to earn Royals a point

Ali Al Habsi saved Andre Gray's second half spotkick to earn the Royals a point they fully deserved against third-placed Burnley at Madejski Stadium this afternoon.

Andre Gray spurned a very early opportunity in front of goal, but Tom Heaton clawed a Kermorgant header off his goalline as both teams had chances in the first half. Early in the second period both sides struck the woodwork - McShane with a far post header and then Al Habsi pushing a Lowton free kick against the frame of the goal.

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Gray won a penalty just before the hour but saw his spot-kick saved by the aggrieved Al Habsi, and Robson-Kanu came close to scoring on the break when he was fed by substitute McCleary but arrowed his left-footed effort over. But there was no way through and the Royals had to settle for a point against the third-placed Clarets.

Boss Brian McDermott had to shuffle his pack, injury ruling out Danny Williams and Matej Vydra and allowing starts for Michael Hector and Lucas Piazon, while Stephen Quinn also came into the eleven for Garath McCleary. Young forward Josh Barrett was included as a substitute, for only the second time in his professional career.

With less than three minutes on the clock, Burnley had a great chance to open the scoring. A ball into George Boyd led to a fine cut back from the midfielder and Andre Gray spooned his effort over the bar from close range.

Hal Robson-Kanu created the first opportunity at the other end soon after, delivering a lovely inswinging cross that no-one could get on the end of in the middle. Again Robson-Kanu again did well down the right, shrugging off the pull back of Ward but crossing too deep this time.

Ten minutes in and Obita won a corner on the left, delivering it dangerously into the box but Burnley nodded it clear off the head of McShane in the middle. Kermorgant and then Norwood recycled crosses back into the middle that the Clarets just managed to clear.

Hal then swing in a very good ball from the right that Kermorgant nodded down brilliantly, only for Tom Heaton to claw the ball off his line and away from the bottom corner of his goal.

Al Habsi fought his way through a crowd to punch a corner clear, then Boyd's follow up effort was charged down by Hector. And with 25 minutes played, Vokes glanced a header wide when a cross from the right was whipped in just over the leap of McShane in the middle.


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Boyd arrowed a speculative effort well wide of the target after a break from midfield, then Andre Gray raced 50 yards before his cut back was seen behind by a sliding McShane tackle on the byline.

But at the other end Hector won possession and fizzed a lovely pass into Robson-Kanu who spun his man only to just be beaten to the ball by a combination of Heaton and Keane on the edge of the six yard box.

Obita drilled an effort at goal which was deflected wide by a Burnley body, but the two teams headed back into the dressing room with the game goalless.

Half-time: Reading 0 Burnley 0

Reading twice came close with headers at the start of the second period. Norwood's deep free kick was met by McShane's head at the far post but the Royals skipper was denied by the woodwork. Then from the follow-up corner, a cross came in from the left and an unmarked Piazon couldn't direct his header on target.

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But Burnley could have scored soon after, when Lowton's low centre was turned wide by Sam Vokes with Gray loitering in the middle. And Ali Al Habsi did very well to prevent an inswinging Jones free kick from the right flank from curling into the back of his net - the Royals keeper pawed it against his woodwork and away.

Just before the hour mark, Burnley won a penalty. Gray got in behind the back line and Al Habsi was penalised for sliding out to try to clear it. Gray tumbled inside the box and referee James Adcock pointed to the spot. An incensed Al Habsi's complaints fell on deaf ears, but the Royals stopper dived full stretch to his left to save the striker's spotkick.

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Reading broke from a Burnley free kick with 20 minutes left, Kermorgant winning a crucial header and then McCleary passing the ball into the path of Robson-Kanu who arrowed his left-footed effort just over.

Kermorgant tried to force a header goalwards after a floated ball into the box from Norwood, but he couldn't the power or direction he needed on the effort, then McShane did well to throw his body in the way of a drilled Jones drive from distance.

Gray caught Cooper in possession near the end, but McShane did brilliantly to come across and hold play up before dispossessing the striker before he could fire an effort at goal. And at the other end, Hector drilled a free kick towards goal that was charged down.

Full-time: Reading 0 Burnley 0

Reading: Al Habsi, Gunter, Obita, McShane (c), Cooper, Hector, Norwood (Rakels 81), Quinn, Piazon (McCleary 64), Robson-Kanu, Kermorgant.
Subs: Bond, Ferdinand, Evans, Barrett, John.
Yellow: Robson-Kanu, Obita.

Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Ward, Keane, Mee, Barton, Jones, Boyd, Arfield, Vokes, Gray (Hennings 86).
Subs: Robinson, Taylor, Tarkowski, Kightly, Ulvestad, Darikwa.
Yellow: Barton

Referee: Mr J Adcock
Att: 16,773 (1,428 away)