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Page last updated at 18:19 GMT, Saturday, 9 May 2009 19:19 UK

Burnley 1-0 Reading

Graham Alexander's late goal gives Burnley the advantage in the play-offs
Graham Alexander (left) celebrates his late winner for Burnley

Graham Alexander gave Burnley the edge in their play-off semi-final with Reading as his clinical penalty secured a first-leg victory at Turf Moor.

Alexander drilled home six minutes from time after Andre Bikey had tugged Steven Thompson's shirt in the area.

It was rough justice for Reading, who dominated the tie but failed to take advantage in front of goal.

And Bikey soured the day further for the Royals when he was sent off for an injury-time stamp on Robbie Blake.

Reading's recent form has been far better on the road than at home and they looked keen to adopt a counter-punching approach to this first leg tie.

Steve Coppell's side looked solid at the back and dangerous on the break and they were unlucky not to take the lead when Jay Tabb forced a spectacular save from Brian Jensen.

Marek Matejovsky pulled the back from the bye-line for Tabb to run on to and smash a left-footed drive that Jensen reacted superbly to block.

Matejovsky then fluffed the chance to force home the rebound as he shot tamely at the Burnley keeper from a tight angle.


Kevin Doyle thought he had broken the deadlock for Reading when he followed up after Jensen had parried Andre Bikey's header, only to see Martin Paterson block on the line.

At the other end, Paterson ploughed a lone furrow for Burnley and as a result the home side rarely threatened Marcus Hanemann.

Reading suffered a setback when Doyle limped off with an Achilles injury soon after going so close to opening the scoring, Dave Kitson replacing him up front.

But Burnley had personnel problems too; having lost Wade Elliott to injury shortly before kick-off, they then saw his replacement Joey Gudjonsson limp off after a shuddering early challenge by Michael Duberry.

That situation hardly helped the mood of the home supporters, who grew increasingly frustrated by their side's lack of chances and failure to keep hold of the ball.

But they finally threatened to trouble Hahnemann 15 minutes from time when Chris McCann cut inside and hit a fierce shot which cannoned off Duberry and over the bar.

Reading defender Andre Bikey
Andre Bikey reacts theatrically to his red card

Reading, though, wasted an even better chance to break the deadlock 10 minutes from time when Jimmy Kebe superbly skipped clear of the Burnley defence, but failed to tee up the unmarked Kitson in front of goal.

And that error was punished moments later when Thompson spun clear of Bikey, only for the defender to grab hold of his shirt.

It was a clear penalty and the ever-reliable Alexander was ruthless in his punishment as he rammed home his 11th goal of the season to hand Burnley the advantage.

Bikey's misery was compounded in injury time when he was shown a straight red card for a petulant stamp on Robbie Blake, then threatened to land himself in deeper trouble by ripping off his shirt and reacting theatrically to the decision.

Burnley manager Owen Coyle:

"There's still a lot to play for, there's no doubt about that.

"The game wasn't really what I had anticipated in terms of two good football teams getting the ball down and playing.

"I thought Reading came with a game plan to stifle our threat and all credit to them.

"They were relatively successful in doing it, but I can't ask any more of the players and the courage, the desire and the hunger they have to win football game is so evident.

"We know we have to play better than that and that's what we'll look to do."

Reading manager Steve Coppell:

"I have no reservations whatsoever with the red card. There is no place for that in football and he got 100% what he deserved.

"But I felt that for the referee to give the penalty from seven or eight yards away without the 100% support of his assistant was, at best, a guesstimate.

"I have watched it several times on tape and still can't tell whether the offence was in or outside the area."

Burnley: Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Gudjonsson (McDonald 21), Alexander, McCann, Eagles (Thompson 58), Paterson (Rodriguez 87), Blake.
Subs not used: Penny, Jordan.

Goal: Alexander 84 pen.

Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Duberry, Bikey, Harding, Kebe, Matejovsky, Gunnarsson (Cisse 85), Tabb, Long, Doyle (Kitson 40).
Subs not used: Federici, Stephen Hunt, Karacan.

Sent off: Bikey (90).

Booked: Matejovsky, Bikey.

Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

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see also
Reading 'to get revenge on Coyle'
08 May 09 |  Reading
Bikey yet to say sorry says medic
10 Feb 08 |  African
Caf confirms Bikey to miss final
09 Feb 08 |  African

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