News and Views

League Defeat In Last Match Before Wembley

15 April 2015
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading's last match before their FA Cup semi-final showdown with Arsenal at Wembley Stadium saw the Royals put up some strong resistance but still go down 0-1 to Bournemouth at home. It was Reading's sixth league game without a win ahead of the meeting with the Premier League's second placed, and most in-form, side. Arsenal are on fire, sweeping all opposition aside in a long series of victories. Reading's last win was in our last FA Cup fixture - the quarter final replay against League One Bradford which we won 3-0.

Rather than play the reserve side, as we did against Watford before the Bradford City replay, Clarke stuck to a strong team and recalled Jordan Obita back into the starting eleven. Clarke must have figured that if Obita did pick up another yellow card, and therefore a suspension, he would be able to delay it until after the Arsenal game. Obita played left wing with Ake continuing at left back. Of course Ake and Appiah will be cup tied and unavailable on Saturday, which will force Clarke to make adjustments at Wembley.

The difference between Reading and Bournemouth was a fourth minute goal from striker Callum Wilson. It was his 22nd goal of the season. Meanwhile no Reading player has managed to reach double figures for goals scored. It was an easy finish for Wilson after a surging start from Bournemouth in front of a packed, and loud, away end. A Bournemouth shot beat Federici and smash against the bottom of the right post before coming back out to present itself to Wilson to score. Bournemouth only managed to get one more shot on target for the rest of the game.

The early goal was a real killer blow for the Royals. It allowed Bournemouth to immediately relax and meant Reading had to chase the game. As a result the Royals dominated possession but struggled to make many clear cut break-throughs with the visitors letting Reading play the ball around the middle of the park - but packing their defence if Reading threatened. We did have chances, with Mackie breaking free before seeing the Bournemouth keeper dash out to block his shot at very close range. Jordan Obita had an opportunity but saw his effort fly over the crossbar. Most of our pressure came in the last ten minutes as Reading finally threw everything forward hoping to grab an equaliser. The Cherries hacked one clear off the line in the dying moments but otherwise their defence held strong.

Bournemouth are clearly a very good side and are set for the Premier League. In some ways that meant this was a good test for Reading ahead of their FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal on Saturday. We did ok against the Cherries - we had the best of the game, had the most efforts on goal and looked the livliest. But was that purely because Bournemouth were already ahead and just needed to see out the game for another valuable three points? The truth is that Reading again failed to score at home. Arsenal are obviously another class above, and although Reading have looked improved against both Blackburn and Bournemouth, the fact is that we can't score goals. If you ask anyone for a prediction then it will be Reading nil, Arsenal a lot more than nil.

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