A single second can change a football game said Brian Clough - Stevenage felt their game with Reading swung on a three-minute spell at the end of the first half.

Shouts for a penalty for handball went unheeded after 42 minutes, a corner their only reward.

Three minutes later a long throw from the left went all the way into the area and into the back of the net, Amadou Mbengue credited with getting a touch by his own side but more likely a Vadaine Oliver own goal.

That changed the whole aspect of the game and brought Boro only their second home defeat of the season.

There were three changes from the victory over Blackpool on Saturday.

Luther James-Wildin, Finley Burns and Harvey White were the trio to step down, only the middle of them going as far as the bench.

Jake Forster-Caskey, Terence Vancooten and Louis Thompson were the ones coming in.

Nathan Thompson returned on the bench after suspension, as did Kane Smith to cover the absence of James-Wildin.

With Nesta Guinness-Walker not available to play against his parent club, Ben Thompson also appeared among the substitutes.

The first half ended with rage and fury from Steve Evans and Paul Raynor over the non-award of a penalty in the latter stages.

A goal conceded in the 45th minute would not have helped.

They claimed a cross hit a hand although some felt it hit the raised foot and viewing of the replay afterwards did not clear things up.

The Boro boss and his assistant were convinced though and the way the goal was conceded, a throw-in from the left that somehow found its way into the far corner via a deflection, was not what Boro felt they deserved after a half of domination.

From the first minute the home side pushed on and if there was one criticism, it was the lack of saves made by David Button.

Boro had plenty of crossing opportunities from set-pieces and some of their build-up play was among the best they had put together all season.

The chances though were generally put off target.

Forster-Caskey poked one high over the top, Vancooten was closer with his drive but still over.

Jamie Reid had a great run that took all the way to the edge of the box but a block sent it behind and then when he was found by a deflected, driven cross by Forster-Caskey, he had his back to goal and could only turn his shot round the post.

Reading put a lot of blocks in through the first half and they were having to do the same in the opening moments second half as Boro, no doubt wound up by the riled-up Evans, got into some good positions.

But that soon dissipated as Reading looked a wholly different side, going forward with much more purpose and belief.

Femi Azeez made one good run forward, getting away from Dan Butler, before the ball ran to Charlie Savage.

He had acres of space and time but Boro were able to block.

Stevenage still had chances and there were two glorious ones for Oliver.

Both were from knockdowns, the first just going in front of him but the second landed at his feet in a central position.

The first touch was good but with the rain coming down, he sliced it horribly wide.

And with every passing minute, it looked more and more like the momentum and destiny of the three points belonged to the Berkshire side.

Sam Smith thought he had sealed it for Reading only for Dan Sweeney to produce a superb block as he rolled it towards an empty net.

That kept Stevenage in the game but late pressure did not yield another clear-cut chance for Boro.

Match details

Stevenage: MacGillivray, Butler, Piergianni, Sweeney, Forster-Caskey (B.Thompson 80), Freeman, Roberts (MacDonald 72), Vancooten, Reid, L.Thompson (Burns 72), Oliver (Pressley 72).

Sub (not used): Ashby-Hammond, N.Thompson, K.Smith.




Reading: Button, Mola, Knibbs, Savage (Craig 87), S.Smith, Azeez, Ehibhatiomhan, Yiadom, Bindon, Mbengue, Wing.

Subs (not used): Pereira, Elliott, Mukairu, Monlouis, Dorsett, Abrefa.

Goals: Oliver (og) 45

Booked: Savage 24, Mola 39, Knibbs 89


HT: Stevenage 0 Reading 1

Added time: 6

Referee: Paul Howard

Attendance: 3,947 (including 886 from Reading)