AGONY FOR AD­KINS AS ROY­ALS FAIL

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By James Walker

DEV­AS­TATED Read­ing boss Nigel Ad­kins has called on his team to re­mem­ber the pain of their last-gasp exit from the play­offs as mo­ti­va­tion for next sea­son.

Garath McCleary’s sen­sa­tional equaliser against al­ready-pro­moted Burn­ley looked like it would be enough to keep Read­ing in sixth un­til Leonardo Ul­loa’s late goal for Brighton against Not­ting­ham For­est saw the Seag­ulls soar above them.

McCleary, Pavel Po­greb­nyak and Alex Pearce all came close to snatch­ing a third in the fi­nal 20 min­utes but they were de­nied by a mix of good goal­keep­ing from Tom Heaton and last gasp de­fend­ing – not to men­tion events at the City Ground.

Read­ing fans, some­what pre­ma­turely, in­vaded the pitch at the fi­nal whis­tle un­aware that the draw was in vain.

And Ad­kins, who over­saw suc­ces­sive pro­mo­tions when boss at Southamp­ton, ad­mits his play­ers were shocked to the core.

Ad­kins said: “It’s im­por­tant to feel the pain and the hurt. That way it makes you work even harder – I’ve found that in the past.

“The dress­ing room was very quiet and I’ve told them to re­mem­ber this feel­ing next sea­son and as they progress so they don’t feel it again.

“Un­for­tu­nately we haven’t achieved what we set out to this sea­son so we will re­flect upon it and do it again.

“We were go­ing for ev­ery­thing. We tried to win the game.

“At 2-2 we were aware of what was go­ing on in the Brighton game. Un­for­tu­nately we got the news right at the death.

“We can’t change any­thing now. It was a good game. We lost a lot of play­ers through in­jury, it’s been the story of our sea­son.”

The hosts’ pro­mo­tion chase got off to a per­fect start thanks to Kieran Trip­pier, who slid the ball past his own keeper in the 16th minute.

The 23-year-old was try­ing to clear Jobi McAnuff’s low de­liv­ery into the six-yard box but failed to send it wide.

But Scott Ar­field en­sured that lead lasted less than five min­utes.

The Scot fired into the mid­dle of goal af­ter gath­er­ing Pearce’s botched clear­ance from Dean Mar­ney’s cross at the edge of the area.

Danny Ings then fired the Clarets into the lead with a right­footed fin­ish into the bot­tom cor­ner with Ar­field play­ing an im­por­tant role in the as­sist.

Ar­field latched onto the ball on the right-wing be­fore un­load­ing to Mar­ney, whose through-ball teed up Ings.The Roy­als had shot stopper Alex McCarthy to thank for keep­ing them in con­tention at half-time af­ter he blocked Ings one-on-one in in­jury time.

McCleary sent the Made­jski Sta­dium into rap­tures with a stun­ning vol­ley from the edge of the area as Read­ing pushed for a draw. The Ja­maica in­ter­na­tional smashed the ball into the topright cor­ner af­ter Hal Rob­son-Kanu flicked on a Chris Gunter free-kick.

Po­greb­nyak thought he had found the bot­tom cor­ner in the 76th minute only for Ja­son Shack- ell, who has played ev­ery minute of ev­ery game this sea­son, to clear off the line.

Burn­ley boss Sean Dy­che said: “The re­sult was just about fair enough. The defin­ing mo­ment was the keeper’s save be­fore half-time.

“Credit to Read­ing, they went for it. They put play­ers for­ward and tried to make the break but we de­fended well. Their goal kicked us into life.We were very good af­ter that. I was very im­pressed with the per­for­mance, par­tic­u­larly men­tally be­cause we had al­ready done the job.

“I didn’t think there were signs of com­pla­cency, they were ter­rific over­all.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

STUN­NER: Read­ing’s Garath McLeary cel­e­brates his mag­nif­i­cent equaliser but it wasn’t enough to earn a play-off place In­set: Kieran Trip­pier puts through his own net

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