Date: 4th May 2014 at 10:16am
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The Clarets brought the season to an end with a point following a 2-2 draw against Reading in the Madejski Stadium on Saturday. It was just another day at the office for the Clarets already assured of second spot and automatic promotion to the Premier League but it was heartbreak for the Royals. They needed a win to insure they would be in the play-offs and even with a draw Reading fans thought they had achieved it. Royals fans were actually celebrating after the match but looked to have been fed some wrong news believing that Forest had equalised at the City Ground in the dying seconds to prevent Brighton jumping above them into 6th spot. It was not true and as news filtered through it was heartbreak for the Reading fans. It was 1-1 at the City Ground up until the 90th minute not enough for the Seagulls to leapfrog the Royals but cruelly in stoppage time Brighton`s Leonardo Ulloa had headed home Craig Mackail-Smith’s cross from close range to give the visitors a 2-1 victory. Reading must be sick and tired of the Clarets, this is the second time on this ground Burnley have scuppered their promotion hopes, previously of course having knocked them out of the semi-final play offs in 2009 to go onto Wembley for the final and achieve promotion to the top flight for the first time in 33 years! Burnley are now back in the Premier League of course after four years and that was confirmed a couple of weeks ago on Easter Monday when we beat Wigan 2-0 at Turf Moor. Since that time there has been nothing to play for but pride but just like we showed against Ipswich in our last home game a week ago, Clarets stuck to their task and once again looked impressive especially in the first half against Reading. The Royals came storming out of the blocks and looked to be control when a Trippier own goal gave them the lead in the 16th minute but the Clarets came storming back playing some delightful attacking football in front of the live Sky Sports cameras. Within four minutes, the Clarets had equalised after Arfield thumped the ball home from 15 yards out. It got even better eight minutes later when Danny Ings scored his first goal since returning from injury to give Burnley a 2-1 lead at half-time. To be honest in the second-half Burnley did not look as effective going forward and they were punished in the 58th minute when a stunning strike from 20 yards out by Garath McCleary gave Reading the equaliser. The Royals now had the bit between their teeth desperately seeking the winner to ensure a play-offs spot and the Clarets were put under a lot of pressure. They did not buckle though and defended well. Tom Heaton in stunning form saved the day a number of times and our defenders were in the right place at the right time to clear the ball off the line when they needed to. Burnley hung on for a point to finish this remarkable season on 93 points. That tally is the highest points total achieved for a second-placed team in the second tier of English football and would have been more than enough to have finished top in any of the past three seasons but let`s not be greedy. Burnley are back in the Premier League and that`s all that matters!

Team Sheet

Sean Dyche decided not to experiment or give his fringe players a run out stating his intentions to give Reading a run for their money despite nothing being at stake for the Clarets. As expected he named the same eighteen for the filth game in succession. We therefore lined up as follows:

Heaton, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Kightly, Marney, Jones, Arfield, Ings, Barnes

Subs: Cisak, Long, Edgar, Baird, Stanislas, Wallace, Treacy

Full Match Report

Hertfordshire referee Mick Russell got this final match of the season underway on a nice sunny spring day down in Berkshire. The hosts had a whirlwind start. Jordan Obita chased the ball down on the left wing before putting over a cross in to the danger area within the first minute. The ball was parried away and moments later the hosts were claiming a penalty when Shackell looked to have handled the ball after blocking a powerful shot by Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak. The referee though was having none of it waving play on before McCleary shot over the bar. In these early stages Burnley showed their defensive class taking the sting out of the Royals attacks. The visitor`s first chance came in the 16th minute when Ashley Barnes latched onto a Trippier cross. Chesting the ball down in the box he put the ball wide of target and an immediate counter-attack then led to the Clarets being 1-0 down. McAnuff in the clear with the Burnley defence desperately trying to get back, charged forward before putting over a low cross into the box. Trippier could only turn the ball into his own net and now Burnley had a lot to do. Once again though refusing to let their head drops, they showed the resilience to come back fighting and within four minutes they had equalised. Dean Marney put over a superb low drive allowing Arfield to pounce from 12 yards out and thump the ball home to notch up his eighth goal of the season. The Royals this time came back fighting and nearly got their noses in front again when on 24 minutes Duff nearly made it another own goal after connecting with a McAnuff cross and sending the ball towards target. Heaton though this time was able to save. 2,021 visiting fans though went wild when Burnley took the lead in the 28th minute. Marney was once again involved in the build-up this time finding Ings on the edge of the box. The Championship Player of the Year swiveled and unleashed a shot from twenty yards out to send the ball sweetly into the top corner of the net to make it his 26th goal of the campaign and his first since returning from injury 5 games ago. The game was now superbly entertaining for the neutral it was open and end-to-end but it was the Clarets who looked the most likely to score again. Burnley were composed and confident in the last quarter of the first half. The hosts looked a little shaky now but kept pressing. Burnley on the other hand were finding space and looked the more threatening. Barnes in the 38th minute could have made it 3-1 after latching onto a cut-back from Kightly in the six-yard box. The ball though somehow seemed to get tangled under his feet and the defence managed to scramble the ball away. Ings unleashed a shot moments later from 25 yards out that flew just over the bar and Burnley kept pressing during the two minutes of stoppage time. Ben Mee from just inside his own half sent a lofted ball over the hosts defence to put Ings clear with just McCarthy to beat. The keeper though spread himself wide enough to deny the England Under 21 striker and Barnes picking up the rebound saw his shot deflected over the bar.

With the Clarets leading 2-1 at half-time there was no need for Sean Dyche to make any changes for the start of the second-half and the Reading gaffer, Nigel Adkins also decided not to bring on any substitutes. It was the hosts once again who started the half the brighter with the Clarets having to deal with a few crosses early in the second half. Reading fans had something to cheer about though in the 58th minute when a wonder strike from Garath McCleary brought the scores level. A long ball forward from Chris Gunter found Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak and he nodded the ball in the direction of McCleary on the edge of the box. He unleashed an unstoppable shot that gave Heaton no chance. The Royals now had their tails up desperate to get another goal but Burnley once again kept their cool. McCarthy prevented Burnley re-taking the lead after denying David Jones by palming away his shot from outside the area. Reading though kept pressing with Burnley generally struggling to attack with the same panache they had in the first-half. In the 71st minute, a free-kick to the back post was headed back into the danger area by defender Alex Pearce. Pogrebnyak latched onto the ball but his shot was blocked before Burnley managed to scramble the ball away to safety. The former Fulham striker had another chance four minutes later and this time looked certain to score after latching onto a McCleary cross at the far post. Heaton was beaten but Shackell was superbly placed on the line to clear the danger. The visiting fans nerves were tested once again when McCleary found himself on a one-on-one with just the keeper to beat. Once again Heaton showed his class denying the midfielder with his leg. A more comfortable save in the 84th minute prevented Pearce putting the Royals ahead. The Clarets did have a few chances in the second half and their last one came in the dying minutes of the game when a shot from substitute, Junior Stanislas was saved by McCarthy. That was it and Burnley held on for a point in their final Championship game for at least a season! They now prepare for life in the Premier League having finished this remarkable Championship season with a 12 match unbeaten run away from home!

Match Stats

Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Pogrebnyak, Leigertwood, Le Fondre (Robson-Kanu-57), McAnuff, Morrison, Akpan (Taylor-55), Obita

Subs Not Used: Federici, Gorkss, Blackman, Cummings, Hector

Goals: Trippier 16 (og), McCleary 58

Booked: Yellow Card for Akpan (37)

Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Kightly (Wallace-63), Marney, Jones, Arfield (Stanislas-72), Ings, Barnes

Subs Not Used: Cisak, Long, Edgar, Baird, Treacy

Goals: Arfield 20, Ings 28

Booked: Yellow Cards for Arfield (60), Mee (69) and Duff (81)

Possession: 47% Reading, 53% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)

Ref: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)

We hope you have enjoyed our Matchday coverage this season and of course we will be back next season when we start life again in the top flight after a four year absence. Our pre-season campaign will also be covered so see you all back here then! In the mean time ‘We are Premier League, say We Are Premier League’ Phew what a season!


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