Wednesday 1-2 Reading
03/03/09 - 7.45pm
Wednesday were left to rue a number of controversial decisions by referee Andy Hall as Reading bagged their first win in five matches and completed a league double against Wednesday.
Sean McAllister had given the Owls the lead at half-time before goals from Kevin Doyle and substitute Shane Long sealed the win for the visitors on a damp and windy Hillsborough pitch.
Owls boss Brian Laws made just the one change to the side that beat Burnley 4-2 at the weekend with captain Richard Wood returning to the centre of defence in place of Richard Hinds who was rested.
But the change seemed to make all the difference as Wednesday looked anything but dangerous in the majority of their attacks.
Neutrals will have given the Owls a fighting chance going into the game following two wins on the spin and Reading's current form, and rightly so.
But the Royals knew they had to start winning as the season enters its 'business end', and they certainly put in a professional performance to bag all three points, despite the helping hand from the officials.
The early rain and wind made it difficult for either side to carve out any clear-cut chances in a drab opening to the match.
It look apparent that any winning goal in the early conditions was going to come from a set-piece, and it was almost Wednesday who broke the deadlock in just that manner.
Michael Gray lined up a free-kick at the edge of the Royals' box and fired his effort agonisingly wide of the goal as Wednesday started brightly.
Reading had started equally as bright though, and looked slightly more dangerous in their attacks, Chris Armstrong proving just that as he raced forward and saw his low effort skid low and wide.
Jermaine Johnson looked his usual self in causing the Reading defence early problems, a jinxing run resulting in him being upended just outside the box, but Darren Potter failed to make the set-piece count.
The Wolves loanee had arguably his worst performance in a blue and white shirt since arriving at S6, mis-placing numerous passes to the frustration of his team-mates and the majority of the 19000-plus crowd.
The first controversial decision of the match set the benchmark when both linesman and referee wee seemingly confised as to whether to award a free-kick for the Royals on the left-hand side following a challenge from Tommy Spurr.
The decision was a Royals free-kick, and Stephen Hunt almost made it a double blow for the Owls as his effort went over the defenders and attackers before coming back off the woodwork.
The referee, and Noel Hunt, was at the centre of attention again not long after as the man in black booked Hunt for a dive inside the Wednesday box.
Both sides had their far share of the possession without really creating too much, but it was Reading, if anyone, looking the more likely, with Wednesday failing to get a final ball in the final third.
But it was Wednesday who took the lead into the break when Sean McAllister powered a superb effort into the back of the net after good hold-up play by Clarke.
Half-Time: Wednesday 1-0 Reading
Wednesday started the second half as they'd finished the first - on top.
Good work from the in-form Clarke on the left saw him turn his marker neatly before firing an effort which was comfortably saved by Reading 'keeper Federici.
Jermaine Johnson also fired an effort at the Reading goal after another teasing run, but it went agonisingly high and wide and into the Owls fans behind the goal.
But for all Wednesday's good early play, it was the visitors who had the best early chance of the second 45 minutes when Rosenior saw his goalbound effort brilliantly turned his effort round the post by Lee Grant.
Reading were knocking on the door and they got back on level terms ten minutes into the second half when Kevin Doyle was left unmarked at the back post from a Reading corner and couldn't miss to make it 1-1.
Wednesday didn't let their heads go down though and they could have regained the advantage shortly after as Clarke went racing down the left only to drag his shot well wide of goal with strike partner Tudgay well positioned inside the box.
And the main talking point of the match included Clarke just minutes later.
The big striker had been on the end of some tough challenges throughout the night but it was a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other as he broke free of Alex Pearce before slotting his effort by Federici only to see his effort chalked off for a foul on the Reading defender.
Clarke appealed his innocence to the linesman but only saw his efforts find him a yellow card, while boss Brian Laws was equally incensed in the technical area.
Salt was rubbed into the Wednesday wounds just a matter of minutes later as the visitors broke away at the other end and Shane Long powered his effort by Grant to provide the winner in front of the small travelling banfd of Royals fans.
There was still time for more action though, with the Owls forcing a number of corners in stoppage time, all of which goalkeeper Lee Grant came up for.
Grant came close to finding the back of the net twice, while Richard Wood thought his effort had crossed the line, only to see appeals waved away.
Full-Time: Wednesday 1-2 Reading
Wednesday: Grant, Buxton, Beevers, Wood, Spurr, Johnson (Jeffers 82), McAllister, Potter (O'Connor 75), Gray (Small 75), Clarke, Tudgay. Unused subs: Hinds, Simek.
Reading: Federici, Rosenior, Armstrong, Pearce, Duberry, Gunnarsson (Cisse 90), Matejovsky, Stephen Hunt, Tabb (Kebe 46), Noel Hunt (Long 78), Doyle Unused subs: Hahnemann, Harpe.