Fight back can't keep us in cup

Last updated : 10 January 2007 By Tony Scholes
Garreth O'Connor - scored the second after coming on as a late substitute
The better you play the more likely you are to get good results, but if you give goals away at the back, and miss chances at the other end, then you are going to lose more than you win and that's exactly what is happening to our side right now.

We had enough chances to have secured a trip to Birmingham or Newcastle in the next round, but even the ones we got should have been enough against a Reading side who didn't create too many opportunities for themselves.

There was just one change to the sides that would have played on Saturday had the game gone ahead. It was just the same for Reading but for the Clarets we had Chris McCann in midfield for the unavailable Micah Hyde with Graham Branch taking the extra place on the bench. In defence, Wayne Thomas lined up at full back with Stephen Foster partnering John McGreal in the centre.

Reading came at us from the off and with their first attempt hit a shot against the woodwork, but we quickly got into our stride and were taking the game to the home side. Twice Steve Jones got in good positions but again, just as he had done against RK Sunderland recently, he failed to get shots in and the chances went begging.

The next chance fell to Wade Elliott and he was only denied by Reading's debutant keeper Adam Federici who managed to get a foot on it after the Claret had sent him the wrong way. Even then we had a chance as the ball fell to Gifton but it came at him very quickly making it difficult. Again the keeper got down to block the effort.

At this stage of the game Ade Akinbiyi had done well enough, he'd made a couple of runs, got some good touches, but then he came so, so close to giving us the lead. He made himself some space in the box to get on the end of a Jon Harley cross. Leaning backwards he still got in a terrific header that was only kept out by a top save from Federici.

We were by now much the better side, we just needed a goal but when the deadlock was broken it was at the other end and against the run of play. It was poor defending from both John McGreal and Wayne Thomas who allowed Leroy Lita to get on the end of a flick and he finished with a good shot into the bottom corner.

This wasn't deserved, we shouldn't have been behind, but we came back at Reading and continued as the better side. Then real disaster struck just a few minutes before half time when they doubled their lead. Shane Long chased the ball into the corner, Brian Jensen decided to chase after him and when Long looked up he saw the open goal despite the narrow angle. He hit it in via the side netting and our cup run looked as good as over.

We needed half time now but after the break we looked a beaten side. For the first time all night Reading were on top and we were struggling. I was beginning to fear the worst, a big hammering, and my fears were only increased after Jensen failed to get to a cross and left Sam Sodje with the simplest of tasks to head home.

Three goals behind just ten minutes into the second half and for the next period of the game we were second best. We didn't threaten them and the only positive was that they didn't create too much. There didn't look to be any way back into the game, and you don't expect to come back from three down in a game.

But we weren't finished and we produced a finale that had the home fans worried for a while. Ade started it. He run inside his defender to get on the end of a Chris McCann ball and superbly lobbed the onrushing keeper from just outside the box. I thought it was heading in from the minute it left his boot but it seemed to take an age before dropping over the line.

Almost immediately we introduced Alan Mahon and Kyle Lafferty and we gave it a real go. Ade again brought the best out of the keeper after turning and getting a shot that Federici just about got his finger tips to.

Mahon got clear only to be denied by the keeper whilst Lafferty missed an opportunity to grab a second. But we kept going and into stoppage time we benefited as the keeper parried under pressure from Kyle and the ball dropped for the last sub Garreth O'Connor to hit home for his first goal since our FA Cup defeat at Derby last season.

We knew there was no time for a third, although Kyle almost got on the end of a ball played upfield, and when referee Rob Styles blew to end the game we were out of the cup. A word here for Styles. It wasn't a difficult game to referee by any means but I don't recall once having any complaint at a decision he made. Well done.

For Burnley, it is disappointment with a cup exit, but there are positives to take from the game. We were the better side up to the first goal, we dominated the last twenty minutes and could have got enough goals during those periods to have gone on and won the game. There were good individual performances including James O'Connor in midfield and good cameo performances from Alan Mahon and Kyle Lafferty.

And then there was the man of the match. I know we probably all wanted Ade to be man of the match, even before kick off, we wanted him to return with a good performance. But it hasn't influenced my decision; he was the obvious choice for me. He made good runs, he linked up well, he held the ball up well but to add to that he had three chances and all three were on target. Two forced good saves, the other found the net. I wonder if any striker has given Ingimarsson a more difficult game this season.

Its league action now, and we really do need to get back to picking points up and soon. And there were enough positives at Reading to suggest we are more than capable of having a good last few months of the season.

The teams were;

Reading: Adam Federici, Ulises de la Cruz, Ivar Ingimarsson (Alex Pearce 74), Sam Sodje, Scott Golbourne, Seol Ki-Hyeon, John Oster, Andre Bikey, Bobby Convey, Shane Long, Leroy Lita (Dave Kitson 60). Subs not used: Marcus Hahnemann, Steve Hunt, James Harper.

Burnley: Brian Jensen, Wayne Thomas, Stephen Foster, John McGreal, Jon Harley, Wade Elliott (Garreth O'Connor 84), James O'Connor, Chris McCann, Steve Jones (Alan Mahon 70), Gifton Noel-Williams (Kyle Lafferty 70), Ade Akinbiyi. Subs not used: John Spicer, Graham Branch.

Referee: Rob Styles (Hampshire).

Attendance: 11,514.