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Match Reports

Lacklustre Royals undone by dogged Albion

Burton spoil the #Madejski500 party

23 December 2017

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A lacklustre performance from the home side allowed Burton Albion to spoil the Royals party in Madejski's 500th first team fixture./

  • Flanagan gives the visitors the lead after disappointing first half Royals display
  • Barrow scraps home a leveller from close range with 15 minute left
  • Moore's clearance cannons off Tom Naylor and into the Royals net for bizarre Burton winner.

Royals boss Jaap Stam made one change to the starting line-up, bringing in Liam Kelly for Tyler Blackett who dropped to the bench. A fit again Garath McCleary and John Swift were also named in the squad as substitutes.

The momentum was taken out of the game early on as an injury to Leandro Bacuna led to a lengthy stop - thankfully the Royals' right-back was able to continue after treatment. And it was Bacuna's expert delivery from the right that created the first moment in front of goal - it skidded across Stephen Bywater's six yard box but no-one was there to get the vital touch.

A mistake at the back handed Burton their first sight at goal after a quarter of an hour, but Tom Flanagan rifled high over teh crossbar from the edge of the box.

But the game remained disjointed and Reading were struggling to find their rhythm until midway through the half when Aluko drileld a pass into the feet of Gunter, but the full-bnack was unable to control it and shoot and the ball looped high into the arms of Bywater as Burton in their numbers mopped up.

And Aluko tested Bywater with a low half-volleyed effort with his left foot soon after, drilling low from the edge of the area but the Burton stopper down well to save to his left.

Appeals for a penalty were waved away by the man in the middle when Barrow's cross seemed to strike a Burton arm inside the box.

Barrow and Gunter combined well down the left, but the latter's floated cross couldn't be directed on target by the arching neck of Yann Kermorgant who nodded it behind for a goal kick under pressure.

Reading were dominating but failing to break down a stubborn Brewers side who had spent all half ensuring they had every man behind the ball at all time. But Bacuna almost threaded a ball into Barrow only to overhit it.

And Albion took an unexpected lead when Tom Flanagan swept the ball home from an Akins throw that bounced through to him inside the Reading area - stunning a packed Madejski Stadium.

Half time | Reading 0-1 Burton Albion

Burton had a half chance to make it 2-0 five minutes into the second half, but Dyer couldn't connect fully with a header in the middle after a dangerous cross from the right had opened the home side up.

Gunter delivered a cross at the other end but Kelly couldn't scamper onto Kermorgant's knock down before Bywater smothered the ball. Buy Will Miller had a good opportunity to double the visitors' advantage, but his scuffed left-footed shot deflected off Moore and bobbled harmlessly through to Mannone.

Barrow got in behind his man out on the right flank and cut onto his left boot to drill an effort at goal, but his marker had recovered sufficiently to block the shot before it could trouble the keeper.

Reading were struggling to create clear cut opportunities, but Aluko drilled a left-footed effort just wide of the right post with 25 minutes remaining.

McShane so nearly picked out Barrow with a threaded pass between Burton defenders, but Bywater was alert to it and slid out to gather the ball into his body.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, the Brewers defence did creak. A looping cross from Gunter was brought down by Kelly whose low drive deflected into the feet of Barrow just inside the six yard box. And the Royals' top scorer sidefooted the ball scrappily home to make it 1-1.

Then a calamity at the back handed the visitors the lead once more. Van den Berg's pass back to Moore on the stretch was short and Moore's sliding clearance cannoned into the body of Tom Naylor and spun towards the Reading goal, beyond the sprawling dive of Mannone and into the bottom right corner.

Reading looked for a late equaliser and McShane's cross was headed clear at the near post as Bodvarsson looked to get a head to it.

But four minutes of injury time elapsed and Reading had to face up to a very disappointing defeat. 

Full time | Reading 1-2 Burton Albion

Reading: Mannone, Bacuna, Gunter, McShane (c), Moore, Van den Berg, Edwards (Swift 61), Kelly (Bodvarsson 81), Aluko, Barrow, Kermorgant.
Subs: Jaakkola, Blackett, Ilori, Clement, McCleary.
Goals: Barrow 76

Burton Albion: Bywater, Buxton (c), Flanagan, Naylor, Akins, Dyer, Brayford, Turner, Miller (Allen 69), Sordell (Scannell 83), Murphy.
Subs: McFadzean, Campbell, Palmer, Sbarra, Akpan.
Yellow: Murphy
Goals: Flanagan 40, Naylor 80

Referee: Mr J Brooks
Att: 21,771 (319 away)

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