The Robbie Blake money is going towards the pitch

Last updated : 17 January 2005 By Tony Scholes

Reading boss Steve Coppell will not have been so pleased given that the three teams above them all won but he did think that his side had been the more likely winners.

“I thought we were the team who was going to win it,” he said. “We played some good stuff in the second half in particular. Our last three or four games have taken on a pattern because we’re getting into a lot of good situations and things are flashing across the box but we haven’t had many clear chances.

“We’ve had so many of these situations and we’ve got to work doubly hard to score right now. We had three or four by line situations and it seemed Burnley were always on the end of the cross. Marcus didn’t have a save to make all afternoon and certainly in the second half we were the team looking to create.

“We haven’t got that sharp edge, I’ll be the first to admit that but we had no Kitson, Ferdinand or Morgan. I’ve put the emphasis on Forster and we’ve got Owusu as well when I choose to use him. We are creating as many chances as we were earlier in the season when we were winning games.”

Both Coppell and his coach had harsh words for the referee, in particular with the decision to book Steve Sidwell, his tenth of the season that brings with it an automatic two match ban.

Coppell said, “I must admit I didn’t know he’d been booked at the time because there was a real saga about the decision. I felt the officials maybe had a slightly flippant attitude at times and we had a couple of penalty shouts later but the referee was closer than me so I’ll have to go with him on those.”

First team coach Kevin Dillon had more to say on the incident though and pointed the finger at the referee and our players. “It was pathetic. Sidwell picked their player up after the foul and the ref said, ‘It is OK, don’t worry,’ but then two of their players ran across shouting and screaming and he changed his mind and booked him. Referees have to be stronger, they have to decide straight away if it is a booking or not but today he didn’t. We’ve lost a player because of that.”

Coppell concluded, “Burnley are masters at frustrating people and taking points, I think they have fewer defeats than us and I felt that doing something different would freshen it up. To a certain extent it worked, we didn’t get the result but I was happy with the level of performance, particularly in the second half.”

Steve Cotterill had warned that we might be rusty and said as much after the game. “It was tough today,” he admitted. “We looked as if we hadn’t played for two weeks and it looked as though Richard Chaplow hadn’t played for three months and Jean-Louis Valois hadn’t played for two months.

“I think we looked a little ring-rusty and were off the pace because we haven’t played for a couple of weeks, but we have taken a point today and we have to be happy with that. There were twenty-two players out there who worked their socks off and they have shown us respect by playing a 4-5-1 formation.

“We were very spasmodic and if we had scored it would have been from a break or set play, not through any sustained pressure. The boys had a go though, but found it hard to get going which is unusual for us.

“It was a tough ninety minutes for us, but we are pleased to have got a clean sheet against a good team with some very good players.”

He praised his defence for their fourteenth clean sheet of the season. “Brian Jensen did well and the back four in front of him were good, but we’ve come to expect that. We do need to score more goals though and work is going on to improve that, we are working hard at it.

“I won’t be buying anyone though. A lot of the Robbie Blake money is going towards the pitch and the pitches down at Gawthorpe. It may be budgeted for next year but I cannot see us buying anyone.

“We did try to get someone in on loan last week, but we didn’t manage it and we’ll just carry on looking. I’ve never had so many agents on the phone, now that they know we sold a player for money.”