HOW many Reading supporters last Saturday went home thinking their side had survived with a 0-0 draw or perhaps even thought they had suffered a 1-0 defeat.

Although I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t mind betting quite a few.

In fact it was a 1-1 draw with both teams scoring in the five minutes added on for stoppages.

It never fails to surprise me how many people leave a match before the final whistle.

Often on television they show supporters leaving their seats well before the full 90 minutes is up, when actually this can be the most exciting time of the match.

Statistics show 32 per cent of goals are scored in the last five minutes of a game.

If Manchester United were only one goal up, Sir Alex Ferguson would parade up and down the touchline pointing to his watch in the dying minutes hoping to influence the referee to blow for full time.

After he retired, he called this period, ‘squeaky-bum time for managers’.

For referees the same description could apply.

Retaining control in these final minutes, as showed at Madejski Stadium, can be absolutely vital.

After refereeing at Fairford some years ago, the secretary of the club came into the dressing room to pay myself and my two assistants.

He told me, ‘for the first 45 minutes, you were the best referee we had seen at this ground this season. For the second half you were the worst’.

He was right. Everything had gone so well, that in the second half I thought I could relax and that’s when things go wrong.

A referee simply does not have the luxury of relaxing concentration until that final whistle.

Since that time I have always given myself a gee-up towards the end of a game to ensure my concentration and application doesn’t lapse.

To new referees I always say, if you look at your watch and see there is only 30 seconds to play, don’t think your game is over.

An awful lot can happen in those 30 seconds of squeaky-bum time.