Reading 1-0 Burnley

Jason Roberts
Roberts opened the scoring for Reading with his third goal for the club since his move from Blackburn

Reading battled to a narrow victory over Burnley to lift the club into third place in the Championship table.

Jason Roberts scored the only goal when he curled home a Jobi McAnuff cross, after Burnley's Charlie Austin had seen a header rebound off the crossbar.

Reading could have doubled their lead but for a brave header from Ben Mee who deflected a Noel Hunt shot clear.

Jay Rodriguez headed against the post for Burnley before Jimmy Kebe saw a header cleared off the line.

There was a lot a stake going into the match for both sides, with Reading looking for their fifth successive victory over Burnley in league and cup, while a win for Burnley would have moved them to within one point of the play-offs.

Austin should have given the Clarets an early lead after a jinking run from Josh McQuoid, but the former Swindon striker saw his header come back off the bar to safety.

But against the run of play, Eddie Howe's men fell behind when an unmarked Roberts beat Burnley goalkeeper Lee Grant with a clipped finish from 15 yards.

The goal was Roberts' third in his four games for the Royals in January.

Burnley struggled to contain lively widemen Kebe and McAnuff - a major doubt for the match following a hernia problem - who together stretched the Burnley backline on a number of occasions.

Rodriguez, looking for his 19th goal of the season, was limited to long-range efforts, before David Edgar had an adventurous overhead kick go wide.

With prospective new owner Russian businessman Anton Zingarevich looking on from the stands, Reading continued to press and when Ian Harte's free-kick was spilled by Grant to the feet of Hunt he could only watch as his shot was bravely headed away by Mee.

Rodriguez then thundered a header against the post from a Ross Wallace corner, after strike partner Austin had been one-on-one with goalkeeper Adam Federici who expertly saved.

The Clarets failed to properly test Federici - whose 14 clean-sheets this season is the most in the Championship - and he was a spectator for large parts of the game.

Kebe caused chaos in in the Clarets defence once again when his header looked to be sailing into the back of the net only for Kieran Trippier to make a goal line clearance.

VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Reading manager Brian McDermott:

"It's good for him [Zingarevich] to watch the game, have a look at the stadium and the training ground and what we're about.

"If you're in a different country you're just hearing other people talk about it and not feeling the environment, and I think it's important to feel the environment. He will have enjoyed the victory, that was the most important thing.

"Burnley were a decent team, there's no doubt about that, so we have to be very pleased with that result."

Burnley manager Eddie Howe:

"We started the game really well. In the first half we were very good, passed the ball well and created enough chances to have taken something from the game.

"We sliced Reading open at times, perhaps in the final third our quality wasn't at our usual standard, but be fair to Reading they defended the lead very well in the second half.

"We've performed well against all the top sides and we're getting better every game. We're progressing as a team and the lads are really starting to believe in themselves."

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