Royals Draw AGAIN
There were no changes from the side that started and finished last Sunday's 2-2 draw with Tranmere. However, there were places on the bench for Sammy Igoe who has had a groin injury recently and Martin Butler who made his return after five months out with an ankle ligament injury. The visitors were without first choice goalkeeper Mark Tyler who was injured in training on Friday morning. In his place played seventeen-year-old Luke Steele, playing his first game as a professional.
As it was the last game of the season the club had organised special pre match entertainment. Singer Laurence Robinson performed ‘Nessun Dorma' whilst the army boys from Aborfield were in town, bringing the match balls in by helicopter. But the biggest crowd of the season were there for the football.
The Royals made an initially explosive start to the match, Nicky Forster having a goal ruled out for offside after just three minutes. Good interchanging between Hughes and Murty let in Rougier, the Trinidad & Tobagan fired across the six-yard box for Forster who turned the ball into the net. The Reading fans thought they were ahead but the linesman's flag confirmed that they were not.
The visitors had the better of the play after that, on the quarter hour Reading's cause was not helped when March Player of the Month John Mackie had to come off after sustaining a foot injury in a heavy tackle. His replacement was Adie Williams.
Leon McKenzie won Peterborough a free kick right on the edge of the box on the twenty-five minute mark, former Tottenham forward Neale Fenn stepped up and took it but he floated it just over the bar.
The Posh had certainly played the better football so it was no surprise when they took the lead just short of the half hour. However, they would never have scored had it not been for a howler from Phil Whitehead. Jimmy Bullard layed it off for team mate Matthew Gill who shot from all of thirty yards but straight at Whitehead. The thirty-one year old shot stopper, normally so reliable let the effort slip out of his hands and into the net.
Reading simply weren't at the races in the first half but almost went in level, the ball was played back to England Under 18 international goalkeeper Luke Steele, who recently spent a month on loan at Manchester United, his clearance was blocked by Nicky Forster. It rebounded off him and goalwards but flew just over the crossbar.
At half time things weren't looking good. In panic Alan Pardew chose to make a double substitution. Anthony Rougier, who was having an awful game and substitute Adie Williams who had picked up a knock were replaced. They were replaced by Sammy Igoe and Martin Butler. Butts received a hero's welcome after such a long period of time out. Igoe played on the right wing so Hughes dropped to right back and Graeme Murty moved into the centre of defence.
Reading came out and immediately played some better stuff in the second half, Adie Viveash headed a Kevin Watson free kick narrowly wide of the post early on. But after twenty second half minutes had been played the Royals had only created one further serious chance, Nicky Forster dragging a shot wide.
Reading forced a succession of corners and certainly looked as if an equaliser was soon to be coming. Martin Butler smashed a header in from six yards but it was well stopped by Steele who had an excellent game. A minute later Forster twice failed to score. His shot was turned round the post after he had danced round two defenders. From the resulting corner Fozzy's scorching drive from the edge of the box went through a crowd of players but was still turned away by Steele.
But just as it looked as if the Posh could hang on Igoe broke from the back and played a good ball through for Forster inside the box. He beat defender and goalkeeper to the ball and turned the ball into the net from twelve yards.
Seconds after the restart Butler could have got a fairytale goal on his return. Forster dashed after a long ball on the right and surged into the box. Just when everyone expected him to shoot he passed for Butts who had an empty net to roll it into but somehow Marc Joseph got in and cleared it off the line. For once maybe Fozzy should have been a bit more selfish.
The Posh were on the racks. A pulsating period of play led to the second goal that should have won it for Reading. Forster broke down the left but was stopped by a high foot. Watson took the free kick on the left hand corner of the penalty area. He floated it in and defender Dennis Pearce was on the end of it. He would have registered an own goal had it not been for a good save from Steele.
But the referee somewhat harshly judged that it was a back pass. The indirect free kick six yards out was rolled across for Butler who blasted it goalwards only for it to be blocked by a sea of Boro bodies. However, the Posh simply couldn't get it clear. Hughes played a cross into the box from the right. It was deep to Salako who managed to flick it back. Fozzy was there to head home his second of the match and send Reading fans wild.
It was a spirited fight back but after doing so well the Royals went to sleep in the last ten minutes and cost themselves two points. But at the end of the day a draw was satisfactory, a win would not have been enough to secure automatic promotion with Brentford drawing at QPR. An Andy Clarke cross was fired into the net by Leon McKenzie who had a good game.
Having drawn eight out of our last nine games we will need more of the same next week. We have to at least draw with Steve Coppell's third placed Brentford next week if we are to go up.