Cardiff steal in thanks to Burke's goal

Reading 0 Cardiff City 1
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The Independent Football

Reading must think fondly of January. Not many people do, but eight months ago was when the Berkshire club last won at home, with an early own goal against Wolves. Their dire form at the Madejski Stadium cost them an automatic promotion place last season and saw them beaten in the semi-finals of the play-offs. Now they languish just outside the relegation zone while Cardiff, thanks to Chris Burke's second-half goal, are fourth.

The only blot for the visitors was the red card for Stephen McPhail's high and late tackle on Jem Karacan after 75 minutes. Not that David Jones was convinced about the red card. The Cardiff manager said: "It was harsh and we've asked the referee to look at it again."

This win kept up the Bluebirds' good start to the season, one which had threatened to grind to a halt with two defeats and no goals in their previous two games. But excluding Newcastle, Middlesbrough and West Bromwich, the trio of clubs who were relegated from the Premier League in May and now occupy the top three places, Cardiff are top of the Championship's next best teams.

The visitors deserved to win and through either Michael Chopra or Jay Bothroyd should havetaken the lead earlier than they did. Bothroyd went closest, but brought a good save from Adam Federici.

Cardiff took the lead after 58 minutes. On the counter-attack Peter Whittingham made good progress down the left, his cross was missed by Reading's central defenders and went to the far post where Burke took one touch to control it and another to fire into the roof of Federici's net.

A minute later and Burke should have had his second but tripped over himself in trying to stretch for what should have been a tap-in.

Reading's best chance of scoring came with two efforts in the space of a minute. First, Brian Howard, after 47 minutes, tested the Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall from 25 yards. Then Marek Matejovsky, the Czech midfielder, tried his luck from 30 yards only to find Marshall, resplendent in bubblegum pink shirt and shorts, up to the task.

Their response to going behind was not immediate but with 16 minutes remaining Simon Church, on as a substitute, flashed a shot just wide. The hosts' last chance was also their most spectacular and would have been notable for more than the act of scoring. Federici, deep in injury time, attempted to beat his opposite number with an overhead kick. He almost caused a repeat of history, as the Reading keeper scored here against Cardiff last season in a 1-1 draw.

A repeat of a home win is something Brendan Rodgers believes is not far away. The Reading manager said: "I'm not thinking about our home record. We can't afford to. The players have confidence. We just need that little bit of luck."

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings, Pearce, O'Dea, Bertrand; Karacan (Kebe, 79), Howard, Matejovsky, Sigurdsson; Hunt (Church, 57), Rasiak. Substitutes not used: Hamer (gk), Cissé, Mills, Tabb, Ingimarsson.

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Marshall; Matthews (Quinn, 33), Huddson, Gerrard, Kennedy; Burke, McPhail, Ledley (Taiwo, 87), Whittingham; Chopra (Rae, 78), Bothroyd. Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Gyepes, Capaldi, Magennis.

Referee: P Taylor (Hertfordshire).