Reading 0 Blackburn Rovers 0: Reading survive Matejovsky mishap but Coppell rages

Rather like dog bites man, manager condemns referee may not be news. Steve Coppell questioning one certainly is. Andthis was one of the rare occasions when the Reading man-ager allowed that normal stoicalvisage to slip.

Never mind that, against talented visitors who still harbour European qualification pretensions, his team edged towards security. Or that, after shipping goals all season, his defenders, with Andrey Bikey in except-ional form, secured their third clean sheet in five games. Or that, once his midfielder Marek Matejovsky departed after two cautions, Coppell's side performed with great resilience to claim one point and could even have mugged Blackburn and gained all three. The "emotional helter-skelter", as he recently described the tension of the relegation scrap, finally got to him.

Before the referee Mark Clattenburg's over-zealous 72nd- minute dismissal of the Czech international, a Rovers side displaying "not a great deal of spark or energy", according to their manager, Mark Hughes, had looked there for the taking. One could not dispute Matejovsky's first caution on the hour, for a foul on David Dunn, but the second, following an innocuous collision with Jason Roberts,was unnecessary.

"We might have had two different refs," Coppell said of Clattenburg, who during this edgy but never malicious contest produced nine yellow cards. "In the first half he was laid back and let things go. In the second half he was a terror. It was bump, whistle, and then a yellow card."

One could comprehend Coppell's irritation. Before the interval Blackburn's captain, Ryan Nelsen, was cautioned for using his knee to knock the ball out of Marcus Hahnemann's hands as the goalkeeper was about to clear, as was the American goalkeeperfor reacting to it. Yet earlier Nelsen escaped punishment after yanking back Kevin Doyle.

"For a top referee it was inconsistent," said Coppell, who added, with heavy-handed sarcasm, of Matejovsky: "He's a real animal of a midfielder, isn't he? How many fouls did he commit? Three all afternoon? But we had Mr Hyde refereeing in the second half. The imbalance in the way the game was refereed affected it. Nelsen should have beensent off after 20 minutes. He would have been sent off in the second half."

In the early stages, the hosts had not appeared a side with relegation worries. Doyle was in assertive mood, and only a desperate challenge by Andre Ooijer on Stephen Hunt at the near post denied Reading. Coppell's defence have been less vulnerable of late, but there was always a feeling that Roque Santa Cruz and Jason Roberts could profit if David Bentley could provide the ammunition. Itnever happened.

Reading were far more threatening after the break, and Doyle headed over before Hunt spurned two difficult opportunities. Before Matejovsky's sending-off Rovers had looked only sporadically dangerous. A Bentley volley had brought a fine save from Hahnemann and a beautiful ball from David Dunn for once eluded Bikey and Santa Cruz looked certain to score, but poked the ball the wrong side of the post.

Once Matejovsky departed, Rovers drove forward far more purposefully, and nearly scored when a referee's assistant failed to flag four Blackburn players who appeared offside as a free-kick was driven in. One, Zurab Khizanishvili, dispatched a powerful header which Hahnemann saved. "There would have been a minor revolt if that had gone in," reflected Coppell.

Santa Cruz could still have won it, but was thwarted by Hahnemann at close range. And a kind of justice was done.

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.

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project