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Match Reports

Match Report : 22/02/2014

22 February 2014

Reading 0 Rovers 1

Craig Conway's first half strike was enough to give Rovers a vital win over Reading on Saturday.

The Scottish international grabbed his first goal for the club on his first Rovers start to clinch all three points at the Madejski Stadium.

After an opening half hour in which neither goalkeeper was tested, Rovers struck devastatingly on the break.

After clearing a Royals free-kick, Rovers broke quickly through Jordan Rhodes and Jason Lowe, before Craig Conway arrived to tuck the ball into the back of the net via a deflection.

Rovers could have scored further before the break, Alex McCarthy spectacularly denying Jordan Rhodes with a superb save from the striker's effort on the half volley, before the striker's skimmed header was claimed.

The second half was very much stop start which meant there was very little flow to the game. Conway coming closest with a free-kick that went just over the angle, whilst Royals sub Royston Drenthe went close with two efforts.

As the game wore on Reading threw everything at Rovers, especially as nine additional minutes was shown.

But Rovers showed true grit and determination to hold on to make it five unbeaten with a very welcome victory.

Ahead of the game boss Gary Bowyer made three changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Middlesbrough last time out.

Into the starting eleven came Adam Henley, Lee Williamson and Craig Conway, who made his first Rovers start. Dropping to the bench were Todd Kane, Chris Taylor and David Dunn.

For the home side, they named the same starting eleven for the eighth consecutive game.

In late winter sunshine the game was slow to get going, a tame effort from Royals captain Jobi McAnuff the sole effort at goal in the first 20 minutes of the match.

Rovers were seeing plenty of the ball, but it was the home side who carried the greater early threat without ever troubling the back line.

As the half wore on Rovers started to gain further ground. After good work on the left Jordan Rhodes crossed from the right but Rudy Gestede just failed to connect. Then from a Craig Conway centre from the same side Tom Cairney was beaten to the ball by Reading 'keeper Alex McCarthy.

Rovers had to be alert at the other end, Grant Hanley dealing with a dangerous cross from Garath McCleary, whilst defender Alex Pearce nodded wide a McAnuff corner. Then superb clearance from Paul Robinson set Rudy Gestede racing forward but the striker's low effort flashed just wide.

On 36 minutes Rovers had to defend a dangerous free-kick, but as Jordan Obita's kick struck Gestede in the wall, it was the visitors who broke well.

Jordan Rhodes took advantage of some hesitancy at the back to burst forward, Jason Lowe then returned the ball to the striker and as it broke Craig Conway, he cooly slotted home despite the best of efforts from Reading captain Jobi McAnuff in the six-yard box.

After that Rovers should have scored more. Just two minutes later Jordan Rhodes controlled a ball upfield to turn and lash goalwards, Alex McCarthy diving full length to his right to deny the striker.

Then a Conway cross skimmed off the head of Rhodes with McCarthy saving the effort. It was a strong ending to the first half from Rovers.

Like the first, the second half was slow to get going. It wasn't helped by several stops for injuries. One such halt in play was for treatment to Tom Cairney, who, after trying to continue, eventually made way for Chris Taylor on 59 minutes, limping off with an ankle injury.

After offering little as an attacking force Reading boss Nigel Adkins made a triple change with Royston Drenthe, Hal Robson-Kanu and Danny Guthrie all introduced on 62 minutes.

That sparked renewed enthusiasm from the home side, Drenthe almost making an immediate impression when a Jordan Obita cross fortunately found him, but the Dutchman blazed wide when well placed.

Craig Conway was then inches away from doubling Rovers' lead. The Scotsman curling a 20-yard free-kick just over the angle. At the other end Royston Drenthe fizzed a shot from outside the box narrowly over.

Despite Reading having more of the ball, Rovers looked to be seeing the game out comfortably until an additional NINE minutes of time were shown at the end of the ninety.

There had been plenty of stoppages during the second half but no-one in the stadium would have predicted that many.

In the end over eleven additional minutes were played but despite a couple of scares, Rovers held on to claim a valuable three points.

ROYALS: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Pogrebnyak (sub Robson-Kanu 62 mins), Le Fondre, McAnuff (c), McCleary (sub Drenthe 62 mins), Akpan (sub Guthrie 62 mins), Gorkss, Williams, Obit.

Subs not used: Federici (GK), Kelly, Blackman, Hector.

Goals: None.

Booked: McAnuff, Obita, Guthrie.

ROVERS: Robinson, Henley, Hanley (c), Kilgallon, Spurr, Cairney (sub Taylor 59 mins), Lowe, Williamson, Conway, Rhodes, Gestede (sub Varney 78 mins).

Subs not used: Eastwood (GK), Kane, Dunn, Olsson, Evans.

Goals: Conway 36 mins.

Booked: Lowe, Varney, Williamson, Taylor.

Attendance: 18,858 (854 Rovers fans)

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