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The Oppo: Blackburn Rovers vs Reading FC

Remember when the Royals were one game away from European competition in 2007? Handbags remembers that thrilling 3-3 draw against Blackburn and much more in his comprehensive history between the two sides.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Defeat on Tuesday evening left the Royals winless in an away evening kick off for the twentieth successive occasion. Thankfully, Saturdays offer more of a chance for Reading to gain three valuable points, although the fact we're at Ewood Park may put the brakes on any building optimism!

Head to Head

Reading have never won at Ewood Park, having played there in the league on eight occasions dating back to 1980. We fare slightly better at home, with two wins from eight, once at Elm Park and once at the Madejski Stadium in Brian McDermott's comeback match last season, but generally it is fair to say Blackburn Rovers are a graveyard club for Reading.

Played

RFC Wins

Draws

BRFC Wins

RFC Goals Scored

BRFC Goals Scored

Ewood Park

8

0

4

4

10

18

Madejski Stadium

5

1

2

2

2

3

Elm Park

3

1

2

0

5

1

Reading Overall

8

2

4

2

7

4

Overall

16

2

8

6

17

22

Memorable Match

Sunday 13 May 2007, and a bit of fond indulgence. Steve Coppell's men headed into the final day of the season having already made history, guaranteed by far and away their highest ever finish. A win, and a bettering of the result of the Bolton Wanderers v Aston Villa match would see Reading into 7th, and Europe. Sadly it wasn't to be, as despite their best efforts Mark Hughes's Rovers proved too tough a nut to crack.

It was the Royals who made the liveliest start, putting Rovers under pressure seeking the opening goal and gaining a series of corner kicks in the process, and twice the Royals nearly took the lead when corners were cleared only as far as Nicky Shorey. The Londoner performed superbly throughout the season, form which led to England caps in the summer, and his second effort in particular from 25 yards smacked the inside of Brad Friedel's left post and rebounded to safety.

Rovers, however, eventually imposed themselves on the game, and took the lead on 20 minutes with a controversial goal. Enterprising work on the left flank by Tugay, ensuring the ball didn't go out of play, left Morten Gamst Pederson with space to pick out an excellent cross into the middle, and he didn't disappoint his strikers as the low fizzing cross was met by both Marcus Hahnemann and Shabani Nonda.

As Hahnemann played the ball, Nonda challenged but only succeeded in breaking the big American's hand, and the ball trickled across goal to an unmarked Benni McCarthy to tap home from a yard. Hahnemann went off injured, replaced by Adam Federici making only his second ever league appearance.

The goal was disheartening, but as was typical of Reading 10 years ago they didn't give in and equalised with ultimately a simple goal 15 minutes later. Stephen Hunt's left footed inswinger was whipped into the far post and met by Seol ki-Hyeun. Seol, having stolen a yard on Benni McCarthy, powerfully headed just inside the post, and the sides went in level pegging at the break.

After a good first half, the second half provided some of the season's most exciting entertainment as Rovers and Royals went hammer and tongs at each other, the game swinging this way and that. Rovers regained the lead 10 minutes in as good work down the left  from the irrepressible McCarthy made space for Stephen Warnock to run into and receive the ball and play a good pass on the run into the middle where it was met by Pedersen, whose sidefooted effort came off the post, but luck was out for Reading as David Bentley tapped home the rebound that fell straight to his feet.

Once again, Reading didn't give in though, and just two minutes later the second equaliser arrived as an excellent left footed cross from Ulises de la Cruz was met by the head of Kevin Doyle who planted past Friedel once again.

Again though, just ten minutes later, Rovers took the lead for the third and last time with the best goal of the game. Once again it was wing play that opened up Reading, David Bentley and Brett Emerton providing the thrust resulting in a wonderful right wing cross to the onrushing Matt Derbyshire who couldn't miss. There are times in life where you have to sit back and applaud excellent play, and this goal epitomised the best of English football with powerful lung busting wing play, a cross from wide and a solid header in the middle. A pity then, because of the possible repercussions of that goal the feeling was head in hands stuff.

But again, Reading displayed their resolve, again ten minutes later as a free kick was won by substitute Leroy Lita who opted to take the kick himself. 20 yards out, to the right of goal, he smashed the ball into the legs of the wall, but luck finally found itself in the path of Reading as the rebound was smashed with equal venom by Brynjar Gunnarsson low to Friedel's right. 3-3, ding-dong.

Despite their best efforts, in the knowledge that Villa had equalised at the Reebok, the Royals couldn't conjure up that winner that would have sent us all into hysterical raptures. The season was one to remember, a wonderful display of fast paced attacking football that mixed it up with the best England had to offer. 8th placed we finished, two positions and three points above Rovers. Ironically however, Rovers qualified for Europe via the Intertoto Cup having been the highest placed club to apply for entry, and enjoyed trips to Lithuania and Finland before succumbing to Greek side Larissa. Wishful thinking now,  but that could have been us...

Lineups

Blackburn Rovers

Brad Friedel; Brett Emerton, Stephen Warnock, Ryan Nelsen, Christopher Samba; Kerimoglu Tugay (David Dunn 69), Aaron Mokoena, David Bentley, Morten Gamst Pedersen; Shabani Nonda (Matt Derbyshire 66), Benni McCarthy.

Reading

Marcus Hahnemann (Adam Federici 23); Ulises de la Cruz, Nicky Shorey, Michael Duberry, Ivar Ingimarsson; James Harper, Brynjar Gunnarsson, Stephen Hunt (John Oster 70), Seol ki-Hyeun; Shane Long (Leroy Lita), Kevin Doyle.

Grudge Moment

Not much to go by in terms of grudges between these sides, mainly due to rarely playing each other, but of course the aforementioned broken hand cannot go unmentioned, a clear foul from my vantage point and one that completely changed the path of that match, and of course, history.

The fixture has had its fair share of awful officiating, the yellow card for Chris Gunter in 2013 being a case in point, the Welshman having the temerity to be unable to stay on his feet having been poleaxed by Grant Hanley. With no mechanism to rescind yellow cards (a crime against footballing humanity if you ask me), the card cost Reading as Gunter was suspended later on in the season.

Fact, Interesting or Otherwise

Founder members of the Football League, and founder members of the Premier League. Only three clubs hold this honour -€” Aston Villa, Everton and Blackburn Rovers. They have spent the majority of their years in the top flight of English football, quite an achievement for what is now a comparatively small club to the majority of the Premier League.

For a town of just over 100,000, the club enjoyed big attendances when taken as a population of the local conurbation, as 24,000 regularly passed through the turnstiles.

Lastly, the club's motto "Arte et Labore" means "By skill and hard work" -€” thoroughly representative of the expectations of Lancastrian football supporters, and the working class, industrial history of the town.