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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
17:48 3rd January 2011

READING 2 BURNLEY 1

Despite their famous play-off win here in May, 2009 the Madejski Stadium is not a happy hunting ground for the Clarets.

And so it proved again as missed chances and Shane Long's double strike extended Burnley's record to just one win in their last 11 visits to Royal Berkshire.

Ross Wallace's 28th-minute goal had put the Clarets ahead but despite creating a handful of further opportunities - mostly for the unfortunate Dean Marney - they could not kill off a Reading side which packed a punch itself to extend Burnley's wait for successive victories.

Long, who enjoys facing the Clarets as much as his club does, quickly cancelled out Wallace's opener and then bagged the winner in the 68th-minute as Reading completed their own double to go above Burnley in the congested Championship promotion race.

Only the width of the crossbar prevented Burnley salvaging a point at the death as Wallace struck a free-kick against the woodwork.

But on another afternoon of 'if onlys' the Clarets were left frustrated in their bid to build on their first away win and give further reward to caretaker manager Stuart Gray.

Going into their fourth game in nine days, Gray made three changes to the side that started off his temporary spell in charge with a home win on New Year's Day.

Ross Wallace fires the Clarets ahead

And Wallace, Steven Thompson and Jack Cork all made major contributions on their return to front-line action as Burnley produced one of their most positive away performances of the season before succumbing to the Long game.

The Clarets were certainly potent going forward with a steady flow of chances before the break when Marney could have scored a hat-trick.

But Reading are no pushovers on their own patch with a six-match unbeaten run behind them and they created openings of their own with Long a vibrant spearhead for the play-off hopefuls.

The Irishman's elusive running was a problem for the Clarets all afternoon and with just five minutes gone he got away for the first time following a slip by Michael Duff before shooting over the top.

Long then headed wide from an Ian Harte cross before the Clarets stepped up a gear to take the initiative.

And Marney was a central figure as he looked for his second goal in a Burnley shirt.

Dean Marney shoots just wide

A fantastic move orchestrated by Cork and continued by Thompson's clever dummy on his first League start since March left Marney with just Adam Federici to beat but the midfielder's shot was too close to the Royals' keeper.

Marney then popped up again in the penalty area following a storming run to profit from excellent work from Brian Easton and Wade Elliott, who switched play from one end of the pitch to the other with a well-worked break.

Marney did well to hold off Michael Leigertwood but having engineered the opening poked his shot just the wrong side of the post under pressure from the Reading man.

The pressure was mounting, though, and with almost half an hour gone the Clarets went ahead.

Tyrone Mears was almost unplayable every time he joined the attack and a typical link up with Chris Eagles saw the full-back create the decisive opening.

His pull-back was helped on by Elliott to Wallace and with time to pick his spot, the winger calmly buried his third goal of the season into the bottom corner with his trusty left foot.

Stuart Gray makes a point

Crucially, though, the Clarets could not hold onto their lead for more than three minutes as dangerman Long struck back almost straight away.

Again the Royals' top scorer was allowed to sprint in behind the Clarets' defence from Noel Hunt's flick and with just Lee Grant to beat he calmly rolled the equaliser beyond the Burnley keeper.

In a wide open game the Clarets countered with the luckless Marney thundering a volley against the bar from another Mears' cross but the Clarets found it harder going after the break.

Long missed an early chance as he fired wide when clean through and Jimmy Kebie was also off target as he became an increasing threat down the right hand side.

Chris Eagles tested Federici with a header at the other end but the Clarets were hit by the killer blow mid-way through the second half when poor marking allowed Long to head home Jobi McAnuff's corner.

Reading had chances to wrap it up with a third as Kebie thundered a shot against Easton but the Clarets hit back and three times went close to rescuing a point.

Shane Long wins it for Reading...

Marney volleyed wide from Thompson's knock-down into the six-yard box with 20 minutes to go and then in a frantic finish Eagles forced Federici to save at full stretch.

There was still once chance to come but deep into injury time Wallace's 30-yard free-kick clipped the top of the bar and bounced to safety as the Clarets were left with nothing to show for their considerable efforts.

...as Wallace's late free-kick clips the bar

Burnley: Grant, Mears, Easton (Iwelumo 85), Carlisle, Duff, Cork, Marney (Rodriguez 71), Elliott, Thompson (Guidetti 79), Wallace, Eagles. Subs: Alexander, Edgar, Bikey, Jensen.

Booked: Thompson 4, Mears 53, Duff 57

Reading: Federici, Griffin, Harte, Mills, Pearce, Karacan (Robson-Kanu 66), Leigertwood, McAnuff, Kebie, Long, Hunt (Church 71). Subs: Tabb, Khizanishvili, Howard, Cummings, McCarthy.

Booked: Kebie 76

Referee: Graham Scott

Attendance: 16,151 (Burnley 891)

Clarke Carlisle and Chris Eagles thank the fans

    Data provided by Press Association