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Church answers the prayers

Bristol City
1 - 1

Ashton Gate

19th December 2009

Attendance: 14,366


Simon Church came off the bench and rescued a point for the Royals with an equaliser in stoppage time but was sent off for his second booking for celebrating with the travelling support. Bristol City deserved nothing from this game though and we should really have won at a canter with Shane Long, amongst others, missing some good chances.

In his first game in charge of the Royals, Brian McDermott opted to make two changes to the last side that Brendan Rodgers selected and there was no surprise to see a return to a 4-4-2 formation. Shane Long returned upfront in place of Hal Robson Kanu and Ryan Bertrand overcame the flu to take over from Shaun Cummings, neither dropped player made the bench but Welshman Simon Church did after a back injury.

The Royals battled hard from the start and Bertrand put in a couple of early crunching tackles, something we had rarely seen from the left back in his short time at the club. However the opening chances fell to the home side and Cole Skuse and James McAllister both tested Adam Federici in the opening ten minutes.

We fell behind though in the most ridiculous circumstances when Jay Tabb was adjudged to have pushed Nicky Maynard in the area, with the former Crewe striker heading well away from goal. It was one of the softest penalty decisions I have seen in a long time and a shocking decision by the referee, Mr Haywood. Paul Hartley drove the resulting spot kick into the top corner of the net giving Federici no chance. Church, who was warming up on the touchline, was booked before play restarted for dissent shown towards the assistant referee who failed to spot the encroachment from a City player.

Our heads didn`t drop though and we went onto dominate the remainder of the half and the best chance fell to Gylfi Sigurdsson, after the young Icelander had taken the ball round goalkeeper Dean Gerken his resulting shot was cleared off the line. Alex Pearce could also have scored but his effort was deflected wide and Reading went in at the break behind, but very harshly so.

The second half continued in the same fashion and after Grzegorz Rasiak headed wide from Sigurdsson`s cross, his strike partner Long got on the end of a great ball from Matejovsky but he lost his composure in the area and tried to take the ball round the keeper but lost possession.

The chances continued to come and Matejovsky saw a volley go wide, whilst Long headed over a great cross from the left when he really should have scored. It wasn`t long before he was taken off, replaced by Church, and Jimmy Kebe also made an appearance from the bench in place of Sigurdsson.

It was to prove a masterstroke from McDermott, when the game ticked over into stoppage time Kebe crossed from the right and a deft flick from Church found the top corner. The celebrations in the away end were manic with a great surge forward to congratulate Church, who was delighted to have grabbed the equaliser. After the scenes died down, Church was shown a second yellow card and was sent off much to his dismay.

There was still time for Pearce to almost score an own goal with a back header that Federici got finger tips too, to turn round the post. At the other end McAnuff won a free kick that Matejovsky took, but his effort was deflected wide and the game ended in a draw.

City manager Gary Johnson admitted that his side deserved nothing from the game and praised the Royals, who he felt were fantastic. He was certainly right and yet again we were left to wonder what we could achieve if we had someone to put the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis.

Star Player

Ryan Bertrand. Full back put in a couple of crunching early tackles and that seemed to give him a lot of confidence and he put in a fine performance and almost scored a great goal in the second half as well, when his effort was tipped over the bar.

Writer:Steve Guscott
Date:Saturday December 19 2009
Time: 10:03PM

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