John Roper’s PNE fan column

Adam Reach in action against Reading
Adam Reach in action against Reading
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It was late glory on the road for North End as Daniel Johnson fired in a very deserved winner in injury time to send the 782 travelling fans home in celebratory mood from this last road trip of the season.

This was a very entertaining end of season affair with both sides playing some decent football albeit on the back of not too many crunching tackles, certainly in the first half anyway. Both sides spurned a few chances but North End could have easily gone in two up at the break if their finishing had been better in front of goal. As it was it was left to Jermaine Beckford to deftly hook in the first goal and for Johnson to fire home with his trusty left foot to win us the points. It looked like it was only going to be a single point from our travels after Quinn had fired the Royals level with four minutes to go but North End moved up a gear in the final moments and absolutely got their just deserts. Simon Grayson decided to go with a 3-5-2 formation with Woods and Reach playing in the wing back roles. We started brightly with some good play down the flanks and Gally conducting the Orchestra from the centre of the Park. Unfortunately, Reading own one of the best keepers in the division in Ali Al Habsi and the shot stopper was on excellent form all afternoon. Reading did have the ball in the net but it was a clear offside whilst at the other end a Gallagher shot went fizzing over the crossbar. North End had a glorious opportunity to take the lead after 25 minutes when Beckford was put clean through but as he tried to chip the keeper Al Habsi somehow managed to keep it out. It was end to end with Garner having a shot saved and Johnson being denied just on the stroke of half-time with an excellent save. The second half carried on much in the same vein as the first and with North End kicking towards their own fans there was plenty of atmosphere generated by the 15,834 inside the Madejski Stadium. It was North End who eventually broke the deadlock when a mix up between McShane and the keeper saw Beckford nip in between the two of them and hook the ball into the net much to the delight of the travelling fans. North End should have extended their lead but just could not put the game beyond Reading. An injury to Cunningham saw a reshuffle but we looked like holding on until a ball from the right found Quinn in space and he made no mistake with a well struck shot past Kirkland. It looked like the great escape for Reading but North End kept going and were rewarded late on after some good work down the left found Daniel Johnson in space and the leading scorer made no mistake and sent North End crashing through the 60 point barrier for the season. Final awayday glory then for North End who have totted up 6,300 miles on the road in the 23 league games this season and a great reward for the fans who made the journey on the day. Make no mistake this would have been a travesty if we had left Berkshire with anything less than three points as I thought it was some of the best football we have played for quite some time. There was absolutely nobody on their holidays in this game and the lads showed plenty of pride and passion in a game where there was nothing to play for except pride and a top ten finish. Well the boys certainly delivered on the day and I hope we can wrap it up next week and get that top 10 finish to crown, what has been, an excellent season.