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Burnley FC Blog: There was more to our defeat than the referee
Had I not taken 24 hours to reflect on what as a thoroughly appalling day at the office, this column would have read a lot differently.
My initial reaction was to place the blame for this 0-4 reverse squarely at the door of referee Nigel Miller.
The former policeman from County Durham was awful.
He missed at least two clear-cut penalties for the Clarets and, together with his assistants, got very little right.
But perhaps we have to look a little closer to home.
Decisions aside, the Clarets were just not at the races and while 0-4 was no way a true reflection of the game, we certainly didn’t deserve to take much from the match.
We created chances but Reading were well-organised and had clearly done their homework, nullifying the threat of the in-form Chris Eagles and Jay Rodriguez in the early stages.
That pair, along with the majority of their team-mates were simply off the pace and boss Brian Laws had the good grace to admit as much.
The successful midfield partnership of Wade Elliott, Dean Marney and Jack Cork – the architects of the Clarets run of four home clean sheets on the bounce – were over-run time and again by the visiting midfield and it was through the middle that the Royals had the most joy.
That said, for long periods of the game their sole tactic appeared to be the long ball upfield in the hope of winning a set piece.
It was this tactic that lead to the first goal as the Clarets’ proud recent record of clean sheets came to an end early in the afternoon.
At first glance it looked like Leon Cort’s foul on Shane Long was outside the area but it looks now like it may have been just inside the 18 yard box.
Booking number one for Cort – his first since Adam and Eve were in short trousers – and goal number one for Reading as Long dispatched his spot kick past Brian Jensen.
That should have been the kick up the backside Burnley needed but it wasn’t, a couple of half chances – and penalty appeals – aside, the first half was largely one to forget.
The second half started more positively but the fluidity of the second 45 against Barnsley in midweek was sadly absent and when Jobi McAnuff scored Reading’s second you just knew it wasn’t going to be our afternoon.
Cort, who had had a torrid afternoon, was dismissed shortly after and things got even more surreal when the visitors added a third and then a fourth to put a distorted slant on the scoreline.
I doubt we will see many performances worse than that at the Turf this season and I am sure the lads felt the full force of Laws’ anger after the game.
We’re still seventh and only three points off third but with a Carling Cup tie at Aston Villa tomorrow night, followed by a trip to runaway league leaders Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, another tough week lies in store.
I’d quite happily forget about our Carling Cup aspirations in exchange for a positive result at QPR on Saturday.
With their form it looks highly unlikely, but the Championship is a strange division this season and you just never know.