The comeback kings

EVEN if Reading score their first goal in six league games today, and take the lead against Ipswich, it will not guarantee them victory against the undisputed 'comeback kings'.

EVEN if Reading score their first goal in six league games today, and take the lead against Ipswich, it will not guarantee them victory against the undisputed 'comeback kings'.

When Shefki Kuqi hammered in the winner against Coventry City last week, he helped the Blues complete their 21st comeback in the past two seasons.

In fact, it has become such a part of Town culture now that no one was particularly surprised that they had gone on to win, after going behind to a 12th minute Stern John goal.

After fighting back to either win or draw 11 times last season, the Blues have handed their opponents a one-goal start on eight occasions during this campaign and, in two other games, they have trailed 2-1 before bouncing back to win.


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Joe Royle's side showed their intent on the opening day of the season when Paul Smith put Gillingham ahead in the 24th minute at Portman Road but Richard Naylor pulled one back, before Dean Bowditch knocked in the winner seconds after the break.

Four days later, it took Paul Evans a minute longer at Nottingham Forest, as he gave the hosts a 25th minute lead and looked the better side, even after Darren Bent equalised for Town, who escaped with a draw.

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Former Norwich City defender Malky Mackay enjoyed putting West Ham ahead after just 11 minutes but Spanish striker Pablo Counago saved Town's bacon at Upton Park with a 57th minute equaliser.

Perhaps the most entertaining and dramatic comeback of the season was at home against Plymouth.

Paul Adams and Stevie Crawford each scored within two minutes to put Argyle two up inside 13 minutes. Jason De Vos put one away in front of his dad, visiting from Canada, but then Fabian Wilnis got sent off.

Town struggled in the second half until Shefki Kuqi shattered the Pilgrims with two goals in three minutes, and Town held on in the last five minutes to seal victory.

Burnley were always going to be awkward visitors, as the side with the meanest defence in the division up until then. When Robbie Blake put them a goal up in the 14th minute, they were happy to sit back and defend stoutly.

It looked as though they had achieved their aim until Matt Richards popped up with a 90th minute equaliser.

Ipswich were in generous mood when they went to Crewe last December and Dean Ashton helped himself to a first-half brace.

Naylor, once again, sparked the revival and Bent ensured a point in a much better second-half showing.

Leaders Wigan got their noses in front with a wonder striker from Leighton Baines from fully 40 yards. They could not hold on, though, and fight-back duo Naylor and Bent again combined to score a goal each for the Blues to win and, more importantly, go top of the table, where they have remained ever since.

Town still manage to make hard work of things, even when they get off to a good start. At Leicester, in October, Ian Westlake stunned the Foxes with a second minute goal. City got on top, with goals from David Connolly and Matt Heath, but an own goal from the aforementioned Heath in the dying seconds ensured Ipswich snatched a point.

It was a similar story at QPR, with De Vos getting his third goal of the season in the 25th minute. But two goals in three minutes by Paul Furlong put Rangers ahead on the half-hour.

Bent came up trumps again to equalise, debut-making Darren Currie marked the occasion with a great goal and Kuqi made it 4-2 with 13 minutes to spare.

Last season, the Blues came back to draw with Reading at Portman Road and then Preston, Derby, Reading, Coventry and Sheffield United - all away from home.

They clawed back to beat Watford, West Ham, Rotherham and Gillingham - all on the road, with the best, and most dramatic, victory coming at Crystal Palace, where they eventually triumphed 4-3.

Reading v Town preview - Pages 62 & 63

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