Jason Roberts was on the scoresheet for Reading
Reading’s owner-in-waiting, Anton Zingarevich, will be confident his millions have been well spent following his first official visit to the Madejski Stadium. Zingarevich, whose consortium Thames Sports Investment is set to finalise a reported £40million takeover of the Royals next month, jetted into Berkshire for the first time since the deal to purchase a majority shareholding in the club was announced.
And the Russian tycoon, educated at nearby Bearwood College, witnessed Jason Roberts’ first-half strike secure the three points necessary to take Reading up to third place in the Championship. Roberts popped up after 11 minutes to tuck home Jobi McAnuff’s cross and hand the hosts an early advantage and, though Burnley produced several spells of concerted pressure, the Royals were good value for their win.
The Clarets almost caught their hosts cold after seven minutes. Josh McQuoid was given time and space down the left to deliver a delicate centre that picked out Charlie Austin, who could only direct his free header against the bar. It was the wake-up call Reading needed after a sluggish opening, and four minutes later they were in front.
Reading captain McAnuff, returning after hernia surgery, beat his marker down the left flank before racing to the byline and pulling the ball back to Roberts, who found the left-hand corner with ease. It was the frontman’s third goal in four games since arriving from Blackburn last month.
With McAnuff and Jimmy Kebe regularly beating the Burnley full-backs, the hosts looked a threat every time the ball was distributed out wide.
The visiting Clarets were reduced to speculative efforts from range, as Jay Rodriguez fired wide from 20 yards after 28 minutes and Chris McCann’s volley from the edge of the box ended up woefully off target three minutes before half-time.
In the end Burnley were lucky to go into the break just a goal behind after Lee Grant fumbled Ian Harte’s free-kick, as Ben Mee produced a superb block to prevent Noel Hunt’s attempt on the rebound from creeping in.
After the interval, however, Burnley found a spark. Two minutes into the second period the Reading defence switched off, allowing Austin a clear sight of goal, but Adam Federici’s right boot prevented the forward from finding the bottom right-hand corner.
Four minutes later the woodwork came to the hosts’ rescue once again. This time Rodriguez was the unlucky party, as his header from Kieran Trippier’s corner cannoned back off an upright. But Reading weathered the early storm and soon re-established their dominance.
With 19 minutes remaining, Jem Karacan found Kebe at the back post, and the Malian’s fine header drifted over Grant only for Trippier to nod clear on the goalline.
Chances were few and far between in the final quarter, but Roberts’ early strike ensured the trip was worth it for Zingarevich.