Royals held to a draw at Ewood Park nine years agoAs it was nine years ago, the Royals face a 227 mile away trip to Ewood Park on the final day of the season. Ahead of our Sky Bet Championship match on Saturday, we cast our minds back to May 2007 and our FA Barclays Premiership clash with Blackburn Rovers...
Back then, Steve Coppell’s men were relishing in one of the most successful seasons in the clubs 145 years history. Sitting seventh in the table going into the final game, the Royals would have been hoping for victory against Blackburn and that Bolton dropped points against Aston Villa, in order to secure a place in Europe.
Heading into the match and within the first 15 minutes Reading’s game plan was clear. Having won four corners in that time, Nicky Shorey twice came close to putting his side ahead with the latter being a powerful long-range strike that ricocheted of the base of the post.
Despite the early pressure from the away side Blackburn soon made their home advantage count. The ball was crossed into the centre and Marcus Hahnemann came to clear, but so did Rovers’ Shabani Nonda, and when the ball broke kindly to an awaiting Benni McCarthy he had the simplest of tasks in slotting home into an empty net, putting the hosts ahead.
In the aftermath, with Hahnemann’s season ending in misery thanks to a suspected broken hand suffered from that collision with Nonda, Adam Federici was introduced as stopper just past the 20 minute mark to make only his second league appearance of the season.
With 36 minutes gone in the tie Blackburn failed to learn their lesson in the danger that Reading held from set-pieces, and thanks to Seol Ki-Hyeon’s back post header Steve Coppell’s men found themselves level going into the break.
Seol then turned creator early in the second-half, and from a counter attack from a Blackburn corner, Stephen Hunt was set free down the middle but his miscued shot rolled wide of Brad Friedel’s goal.
Reading were then made to pay for their missed chances when from Stephen Warnock’s low cross, Morten Gamst Pedersen angled the ball of the near post only for David Bentley to convert home on the line to regain the host’s lead in the tie.
In an end to end game that had European football at stake, Blackburn’s lead barley lasted three minutes as Kevin Doyle soon gave Reading an equaliser. The Republic of Ireland international glanced a header past Friedel from unlikely provider Ulises De La Cruz’s right sided cross, giving hope that a point would be enough to secure sixth place in the league.
As it was, Bolton went on to gain a point against Aston Villa at the Macron Stadium, meaning that the Royals would need to win the game in order to progress into Europe.
In going for the victory, the Royals found themselves light at the back, and from that Blackburn manged to again take the lead when substitute Matt Derbyshire, who had barley been on the pitch for a minute, put his side in front for the third time.
Steve Coppell’s side then responded to going behind and Brynjar Gunnarsson’s low strike from a blocked free-kick gave Reading a deserved point in the game.
Ingimarsson’s header did find the net from a corner in the dying stages of the game, but the Icelandic international had been deemed to have fouled his marker in doing so.
Come the full-time whistle a draw appeared not to be enough to send the club into Europe, as Sammy Lee’s Bolton side had got a result against Martin O'Neill’s Villa. The Royals missed out on a place in Europe by a single point...