Burnley moved closer to a long-awaited return to the top flight of English football after winning 2-0 at Reading on Tuesday for a 3-0 aggregate victory in their playoff semi-final. Goals early in the second half from Martin Paterson and Steven Thompson killed off Reading and sent Burnley through to a Wembley showdown with Sheffield United, who beat Preston North End in the other semi-final. The winners of the May 25 decider will join Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City in the Premier League after the Midlands rivals secured automatic promotion. Burnley, who reached the League Cup semi-final this season after beating Arsenal and Chelsea, withstood intense Reading pressure in the first half but went ahead with a sweet left-foot strike from Paterson early in the second half. Thompson sent a dipping shot in off the crossbar to seal the tie and put the Lancashire side on the verge of a place in the top flight for the first time since 1976. Burnley, who ended the regular season in fifth place, one point behind Reading, have twice won the English title, in 1921 and 1960, but fell upon hard times in the 1980s and came within a whisker of dropping out of the Football League in 1987. NEWS: Coppell resigns following Reading failure CELEBRITY FANS: Alastair Campbell
12 May 2009
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