Reading 1 Blackburn Rovers 2: In-form McCarthy laments missed opportunities

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The Independent Online

Benni McCarthy warned referees' assistants to stay away from him after they disallowed three of his strikes for offside. The Blackburn Rovers striker also unleashed his frustration by claiming his team-mates do not read the game in the way he does.

After Blackburn's victory, McCarthy said: "Graham Poll, for me, is one of the best referees, but his assistants? Woah They better hope I don't get them in a nightclub. I've never had three goals disallowed before."

The Rovers players will probably be more upset by McCarthy than the officials, though. "Sometimes your team-mates have a second, third touch too much and they play you in, but your run is already a metre off.

"Sometimes it's about the quality of the lads playing around you," he added. "Sometimes I think some of them don't understand me yet."

McCarthy's equaliser was the match-turning moment here but his airy petulance in the wake of that goal will cost him the opportunity to face Arsenal on Saturday. The former Porto and Ajax striker received a booking, activating a suspension, for throwing the ball towards a referee's assistant after he had headed in.

"It was childish and stupid on my part but you get frustrated after three goals get disallowed and your team is losing," he said.

The impact of losing McCarthy is severe. Much of Mark Hughes's tactics on Saturday seemed to revolve around his in-form striker. The Blackburn manager sympathised with McCarthy's bitter reaction after his goal. "It wasn't done with any malice," he said. "It wasn't as if he threw the ball at the assistant. He just rolled it towards him to acknowledge we'd got a goal that actually counted."

Another of Blackburn's intuitive finishers, David Bentley, settled this contest. Bentley profited from John Oster's sloppy loss of possession before accelerating beyond Nicky Shorey and producing a superb strike.

Reading had dominated the first half, against a Blackburn side that looked out-of-sorts in their new 4-1-4-1 formation. Blackburn's defence looked more hesitant rather than fortified by the presence of Tugay in front of them and the Turkish player demonstrated little of his creative potential in that role.

It seemed only a matter of time before a Reading goal and it came four minutes before half-time when James Harper collected Stephen Hunt's ball over the top and stroked it into the bottom corner.

At the interval a Blackburn defeat appeared inevitable but Reading's manager Steve Coppell was not so sure. "I knew Sparky [Hughes] would go in there and really get them going," he said.

Goals: Harper (41) 1-0; McCarthy (64) 1-1; Bentley (84) 1-2.

Reading (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey; Little (Oster, 83), Harper, Sidwell, Hunt (Long, 88); Ki-Hyeon Seol (Lita 76), Doyle. Substitutes not used: Gunnarsson, Federici (gk).

Blackburn Rovers (4-1-4-1): Friedel; Neill, Ooijer, Todd, McEveley (Nonda, 46); Tugay; Bentley, Savage, Pedersen, Gray; McCarthy (Derbyshire. 90) Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Matteo, Peter.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Reading Murty. Blackburn: McEveley, McCarthy.

Man of the match: Bentley.

Attendance: 23,074.

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