Bentley winner lifts Rovers
By Chris Stanton
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Blackburn Rovers came from behind to inflict a 2-1 defeat on Reading.
A superb 84th minute strike from David Bentley saw Blackburn Rovers come from behind to inflict a 2-1 defeat on Reading at The Madejski Stadium.
The win was a much-needed victory for Mark Hughes's side, following a poor run of six defeats in eight league matches.
A strong second half performance which earned reward for the visitors through a Benni McCarthy header and Bentley's run and shot lifted Hughes's team five points clear of danger.
Rovers were the first side to carve out a chance in the 15th minute. But it proved to be their only meaningful attack of the half because once McCarthy had seen his 'goal' ruled out for offside after the South African had followed up a shot from Morten Gamst Pedersen, Reading took control.
Seven minutes later a scramble in the Rovers area presented Reading with their first clear-cut chance. Nicky Shorey's cross was blocked and the ball fell to James Harper but Brad Friedel came to Rovers' rescue with a point-blank save.
Needless territory conceded by the visitors continued to encourage Reading. Ivar Ingimarsson shot over from a corner on the half-hour and three minutes later, Steve Sidwell came even closer, his header from another corner rebounding off the bar.
The goal the hosts had threatened duly arrived two minutes before half-time. Stephen Hunt's ball over the top caught Tugay in a race with Harper who won that duel before slotting the ball past Friedel.
The Royals could even should have gone in to the interval two goals to the good, but Kevin Doyle failed to beat Friedel from a narrow angle.
Hughes made a change at the start of the second half, with Shabani Nonda coming on to replace Jay McEveley as the visitors reverted back to a 4-4-2 - and after a poor first half performance, Rovers improved considerably.
McCarthy was left cursing the offside flag for a second time within seconds of the restart - from Pedersen's chip he lobbed Marcus Hahnemann only to see his strike chalked off for offside.
Rovers were forcing the pace and had appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Graham Poll following Ibrahima Sonko's clumsy challenge on McCarthy.
McCarthy had a third goal ruled out for offside shortly after the hour before finding the net for a fourth time in the afternoon in the 64th minute - and this time it stood.
Lucas Neill's cross found the diving head of McCarthy who gained a deserved reward - for persistence alone.
Rovers' tails were up and they could have even turned the match on its head within 60 seconds. Bentley drilled efforts at goal which required Hahnemann to make a smart double save.
Reading had played second fiddle for much of the second half and with their attacking presence diminished, offered only a limited threat - Ingimarsson's shot into the arms of Friedel only emphasising the point.
Six minutes from time, Rovers gained the lead in stunning style - a fine strike from Bentley, who, after rounding Shorey on the halfway line, ran forward before lashing a finish past Hahnemann from the edge of the area, was fit to win any game and so it proved, to hand Rovers the crucial win.
Click here for player ratings
|Reading||Team Name||Blackburn Rovers|
|4||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||6|
|5||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||3|
|19||Total Fouls Conceded||10|