Reading 2 Burnley 2
Burnley signed off from the Championship with a well fought draw at Reading, denying the Royals a play-off spot in a thrilling encounter at the Madejski Stadium.
The Clarets finished a memorable season with 93 points, the highest ever points total for a second-placed team in the second tier of English football.
Scott Arfield cancelled out an own goal from Kieran Trippier before Danny Ings' 26th goal of the campaign put the Clarets ahead at half time.
A stunning volley from Gareth McCleary put the Royals level, but it was not enough to secure sixth place, as a stoppage-time Brighton winner away to Nottingham Forest meant the Royals dropped out out of the play-offs on the very last day of the season.
Burnley went into the final match of the campaign unchanged for the fifth game in a row as Sean Dyche’s side looked to cap off an amazing season with yet another win.
Opponents Reading also made named an unchanged eleven from their win at Doncaster Rovers last weekend, as one more win for them would be enough to cement a place in the lottery of the play-offs.
Roared on by a fired up crowd the Royals were out the blocks quickly. Jordan Obita ran the ball down the left hand side before delivering a cross in to the danger area within the first minute.
The ball was parried out to Pogrebnyak who shot was blocked by Clarets skipper Jason Shackell. Reading players and fans alike screamed for handball, though referee Mick Rusell waved play on before McCleary shot over.
As Reading continued to press to try and break down the formidable wall of the Clarets back-line, Burnley created their first chance of the game.
On 16 minutes a Trippier cross found Ashley Barnes in the box. The striker chested the ball down before firing wide.
From that attack Burnley were caught on the counter as McAnuff went racing clear.
As the Clarets desperately tried to track back, the midfielder played a low cross in to the box which was turned in to his own net by Trippier to put the Royals one up.
But the away side showed that same resolve they have shown all season to haul themselves back in to the game just three minutes later!
A superb low drive from Dean Marney fell perfectly for Arfield to smash home his eighth goal of the season from 12 yards.
As Reading rallied, disaster nearly struck twice for Burnley as a fizzing McAnuff cross was this time diverted goalwards by Michael Duff. Though this time Heaton managed to save on 24 minutes.
After that scare an entertaining match got even better, as the formidable Ings was once again back among the goals to turn the a game on it’s head on 28 minutes!
Marney was once again involved in the build up, playing the ball to Ings on the edge of the box.
The striker took a touch to swivel and unleash a shot in to the far corner to Burnley give Burnley the lead!
As a worried Reading pressed, Burnley continued to find space and were unlucky not go in at the break with a bigger advantage.
On 38’ Michael Kightly cut the ball back to Barnes in area. The striker, just inside the six-yard box got the ball stuck under his feet and the ball was somehow scrambled away.
Moments later, Ings full of confidence tried his luck from 25 yards, shooting just over.
In the two minutes of additional time, Ben Mee lofted a ball from his just inside his own half to send Ings clear.
The England Under 21 bared down on McCarthy’s goal, though the keeper was equal to the shot before Barnes’ rebound was deflected over.
Half-Time Reading 1-2 Burnley
As expected Reading started the second half with the same pace they began the first, fashioning a few early crosses in an attempt to change their fortunes right from the restart.
And as the news of a Brighton equaliser filtered around the Madejski, the atmosphere somewhat changed from determination to panic.
Though fears were eased on 58 minutes, as a wonder strike from McCleary brought the scores level.
A long punt forward from Chris Gunter was nodded down by Pogrebnyak in the direction of McCleary on the edge of the box. The winger hit the ball clean as a whistle to beat the helpless Heaton with a truly unstoppable effort.
As Reading looked determined to get a winner, it was just not in Burnley’s nature to lie down as a David Jones shot from outside the area was palmed away by McCarthy.
The Royals kept coming as two golden Pogrebnyak chances went begging.
The first came from a free kick to the back post, which was headed back across goal by defender Alex Pearce. The ball fell to Pogrebnyak who’s shot was blocked before being scrambled away on 71 minutes.
The Russian’s second chance was all but a goal as a McCleary found the striker the back post four minutes later. The former Fulham man beat Heaton but was instead denied superbly on the line by Shackell.
Moments later McCleary went from provider to nearly adding to his account as he was sent through one on one with Heaton.
The Clarets stopper showed exactly why he has kept 21 clean sheets this season, as he denied the winger terrifically with his leg.
The shot-stopper was determined to keep the Royals nerves ticking over as he then denied a Pearce on 84 minutes with a comfortable save.
Burnley themselves had a further chance to take all three points, though substitute Junior Stanislas’ shot was held by McCarthy.
Drama hit overdrive at the Madejski as news of a Brighton winner against Forest filtered around the ground; meaning that a draw was no longer good enough for Reading.
News of this filtered on to the pitch as the Royals frantically looked to go in-front. Though any late efforts were to no avail as the Clarets held on to a draw.
Burnley now leave the Championship to begin life in the Premier League with a 12 match unbeaten run away from home!
Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Arfield (Stanislas, 71), Marney, Jones, Kightly (Wallace, 63), Ings, Barnes.
Subs not used: Cisak, Long, Baird, Edgar, Treacy.
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Pogrebnyak, Leigertwood, Le Fondre (Robson-Kanu, 57), McAnuff, McCleary, Morrison, Akpan (Taylor,55), Obita.
Subs not used: Federici, Gorkss, Blackman, Cummings, Hector.
Attendance: 23, 335 (2,021 Visitors)