Our cup runneth over

Last updated : 24 January 2010 By Tony Scholes
David Edgar
David Edgar - another good performance
Last season's cup exploits that saw us knock out four Premier League clubs had left us wanting more, but it wasn't to be and after winning through at the soulless Stadium:mk in the last round it all came to an end at the equally soulless Madejski Stadium where only a lone drummer and a few clap happy's at the far end could be bothered.

It was nothing like our visit last May. There were still the unoccupied home seats but the away end was no longer packed and the performance left everyone subdued almost from the off.

It was a strange looking team and one that had too many players with little match action behind them. Steven Fletcher was out to ensure he was fit for Tuesday, David Nugent is in limbo because Portsmouth said no and Stephen Jordan pulled out because of a hamstring problem.

With Christian Kalvenes about to become a dad it meant Chris McCann was drafted in at left back with Joey Gudjonsson replacing Nugent and Steven Thompson starting instead of Fletcher.

McCann was playing for the first time since September at first team level; Gudjonsson hadn't started a game since the same month. It was Thompson's first start since the Hartlepool Carling Cup tie in August whilst the two central defenders have only just come into the side in recent weeks with Edgar getting just his third appearance in the first team.

You sensed it might leave us a bit disjointed and that's exactly what it did do. The first half was a real struggle and against a better side than Reading we could have been in trouble. In truth, they didn't bother Brian Jensen too much and when referee Andy D'Urso blew the half time whistle it was no surprise to see the score still at 0-0.

Yes, Andy D'Urso. Readers of Clarets Mad will have known that Mike Jones was the match referee. He certainly should have been but for whatever reason he'd turned into D'Urso by the time the teams came out with the Essex referee in charge of a Burnley game for the first time since Brian Laws' Sheffield Wednesday beat us 4-2 last February.

He'd done OK, but you have to question why his card didn't come out when serial diver Grzegorz Rasiak tried to win a penalty against us. Tyrone Mears looked stunned as his opponent went down whilst Michael Duff looked on knowingly having seen it all before.

There's little else to report from the first half. We didn't really get going at all, we didn't stamp any authority on the game in midfield, defensively we were generally OK, but Thommo up front really looked to be struggling.

We later learned that Thommo had been ill so no wonder he struggled. His last goal for the first team came at the Madejski, that wonderful strike in the play off semi-final. One other player could claim that; Martin Paterson, and he replaced Thommo at half time.

After a quite start to the second half we finally began to get into our stride and did at least force Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici into action. He made three very good saves in the second half and the first was the best of the lot.

Mears played the ball to Chris Eagles down our right hand side. Eagles and Wade Elliott linked well for the former to hit a low ball across to the near post. It was met by Joey Gudjonsson perfectly at the near post but somehow Federici got down to save.

He saved well from Kevin McDonald after the midfielder had linked up well with Pato and then made another excellent save to deny Edgar from the resulting corner taken by Eagles corner with Pato blazing the rebound way over the bar.

Brian Jensen made a couple of routine saves but in truth we weren't being put under pressure at all by Reading and at one point in the second half you sensed we'd go on and win it. But our improvement didn't last long enough and into the last few minutes we looked as though we were settling for a replay.

Then came the winner. A ball played into our box saw Gylfi Sigurdsson get the better of McDonald far too easily and once beyond our midfielder he made no mistake with a shot across Jensen into the far corner.

There was hardly time for us to come back but Eagles, our best forward player by some distance on the day, did have a couple of opportunities. He delayed with the first and we had to settle for a corner and then, when the ball came out to him on the left, with just about every other Burnley player waiting in the box, he blazed the ball high and wide and our cup dreams for 2009/10 were well and truly over.

It was all so disappointing, in fact it wasn't even that. This was the sort of performance we thought we'd left behind. For much of the game we looked secure enough but offensively we were certainly lacking in the absence of Fletcher and Nugent.

Thankfully both will be available on Tuesday and they will be needed. We have to play much better than this, not just on Tuesday but for the rest of the season.

There were just three candidates for man of the match for me - the two central defenders and Eagles. I've gone for David Edgar who is settling into the side nicely.

Some of the hysterical response, particularly aimed at manager Brian Laws, has been ridiculous. He's just arrived and has taken over a team that is one of the worst in any league away from home. He'll need some time to sort out some of the problems and we all have to fully support him in that.

But it was a bad day. I'm old enough to recall the FA Cup when it really was a prestigious and big competition. So the day we go out each year is always a bad day. I'll get over it, and I'll have long forgotten it if we can go on and stay in this Premier League.

The teams were;

Reading: Adam Federici, Andy Griffin, Ivar Ingimarsson, Matt Mills, Ryan Bertrand, Jobi McAnuff, Brynjar Gunnarsson (Jimmy Kebe 75), Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jem Karacan, Simon Church (Shane Long 64), Grzegorz Rasiak (Gunnar Thorvaldsson 83). Subs not used: Ben Hamer, Kalifa Cisse, Brian Howard, Alex Pearce.
Yellow Cards: Matt Mills, Ivar Ingimarsson.

Burnley: Brian Jensen, Tyrone Mears, Michael Duff, David Edgar, Chris McCann, Graham Alexander, Chris Eagles, Kevin McDonald, Joey Gudjonsson (Robbie Blake 85), Wade Elliott, Steven Thompson (Martin Paterson 45). Subs not used: Diego Penny, Clarke Carlisle, Brian Easton, Fernando Guerrero, Jay Rodriguez.
Yellow Cards: Chris McCann, Chris Eagles.

Referee: Andy D'Urso (Essex).

Attendance: 12,910.