Reading 2 Burnley 2 match report: Royals fall just short of the play-offs despite Garath McCleary's stunner

Reading just one point short off play-offs after Brighton's late winner

Madejski Stadium

Reading surrendered the final Sky Bet Championship play-off place to Brighton in dramatic fashion after the Royals could only draw 2-2 at home with Burnley.

Although they battled back from a half-time deficit to get a point against already-promoted Burnley, Brighton's last-gasp 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest lifted the south-coast club over Reading and into the play-off semi-finals.

Nigel Adkins' men went ahead early on when Kieran Trippier diverted a Jobi McAnuff cross into his own net but Burnley struck twice in eight minutes through Scott Arfield and Danny Ings to lead 2-1 at half time.

Garath McCleary fired in a superb equaliser in the second half to draw Reading level, but in the end that proved not to be enough.

After relegation from the Premier League last season, Reading were hoping for a swift return. Poor home form had hampered their progress but successive wins over Middlesbrough and Doncaster had put them back in the frame.

Burnley had already clinched promotion, with two games to spare, after the 2-0 win over Wigan late last month, but that did not deter more than 2,000 Clarets fans making the long trip to the Madejski Stadium.

It was Reading who began at a furious pace and, after just 25 seconds, they made frantic appeals for a penalty after the grounded Jason Shackell appeared to inadvertently handle Pavel Pogrebnyak's goalbound shot. However, referee Mick Russell would have none of it and waved away their protests.

Reading regrouped and went ahead after 16 minutes from a fast break. Adam Le Fondre found McAnuff free on the right flank and the captain's low cross was turned into his own net from close range by Trippier.

Burnley appeared startled but responded positively and were level just four minutes later. Dean Marney was allowed space to cross from the right and, after the Reading defence had failed to clear, Arfield drilled the ball home.

It was Reading's turn to show some resolve but they were breached again in the 28th minute. Marney was again the provider, with a precise pass, and Ings made no mistake with a powerful shot for his 26th goal of the season.

Burnley began to display the style that had earned them automatic promotion and almost increased their lead on the stroke of half-time when Ings raced through alone, but he was denied by a fine save from home keeper Alex McCarthy.

With Brighton losing 1-0 at the break, Reading still had a foothold in the play-offs, and McAnuff tried to get them back on level terms soon after the interval only to blaze over when well placed.

Burnley continued to play with control, led by David Jones in midfield, but seemed fortunate when goalkeeper Tom Heaton appeared to handle a throughball from McAnuff outside his area. Again, though, referee Russell ruled in Burnley's favour.

Reading responded by equalising in the 58th minute. Chris Gunter swung over a free-kick, substitute Hal Robson-Kanu nodded down and McCleary scored with a stunning volley.

In a gripping finish, Pogrebnyak was denied by a goalline clearance from Shackell and Heaton saved well from McCleary and Alex Pearce twice. But Reading could not find the winner and were replaced by Brighton in the play-offs.

PA

Sport
Romelu Lukaku
sportChelsea striker sends second teasing tweet of the day
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Sport
Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura sprays a line after calling for a free kick for Brazil
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz