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Football: Triple whammy does the trick; Dunn and Co. lead a cavalry charge to save Blues.

Byline: By Colin Tattum The Mail's Mr Blues

READING 1 BLUES 1

THERE was nobody like Barry Fry for going for broke and making adventurous triple substitutions.

Memorably, he threw on Louie Donowa at half-time then soon after Ricky Otto and Jason Bowen on the opening day of 1995-96 which turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 win, with the latter duo both scoring.

And you always suspected that if he had been able to sneak on a couple more wingers and strikers for good measure when no-one was looking in most games, he would have done.

Well, move over Basil, Steve Bruce has got the bug.

The Blues boss told David Dunn, Neil Kilkenny and Mikael Forssell to get stripped for action early in the second half and there they were, surprised themselves, bobbing up and down keeping warm for a couple of minutes as they waited for a break in play to get on.

Reading must have sensed out of the corner of their collective eye that the cavalry were about to ride to the rescue - and so it proved.

From the 58th minute, the three of them transformed Blues into a vibrant, creative force.

Jermaine Pennant and Mario Melchiot were buoyed by them, while Chris Sutton became far more effective too as Blues began to pass and carry the ball forward with more conviction.

Dunn, showing perfect body shape and timing, executed a crisp far-post volley from Sutton's back header to equalise.

And Blues went for the kill and put Reading under as much pressure as they have probably endured for several months while they have run away with the Championship.

Only a dramatic reflex save by Graham Stack, who flung himself into the path of Melchiot's glancing header and got lucky as it hit his face, stopped Blues from progressing into round five.

Stack also tipped away a Pennant free-kick at full stretch in the 89th minute and, as Sutton went to snaffle the loose ball, John Oster was not penalised for a foul which left the striker 'raging' in the dressing room afterwards, according to first-team coach Eric Black.

Blues finished the match like a Premiership side, but up to the change of personnel, they were more like another piece of Championship meat for Reading.

It was back to the bad old Blues of a few weeks ago. They lacked tempo and drive and never looked like scoring from open play.

CAPTION(S):

ARM IN ARM... Chris Sutton battles with Reading's Chris Makin. Pictures: Tim Easthope.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 30, 2006
Words:421
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