Reading FC Match Report: 2017/2018 Season - Championship


Reading: M Barrow (32)
Bolton: A Le Fondre (45)

It was abundantly clear this was a game neither side could afford to lose as Reading decided to slug it out against a team far better equipped for the direct physical style of play adopted by both teams. In the end both teams, helped by other results, were grateful to move a point further away from the drop zone. Reading, hitting a high percentage of long balls forward which were gobbled up by Bolton's lanky defence and midfield, found it hard to get out of their own half for lengthy periods of time.

A brilliant solo effort from Mo Barrow gave Reading a lead they hardly deserved after thirty-two minutes but were pegged back just before half time when the currently leaky Reading defence lost its shape and discipline allowing former Reading striker Le Fondre to nip in a prod home from close range. How Reading could do with that kind of sharpness in the box. There was a lot of huffing and puffing in the second half but neither side had the cutting edge to secure a much needed win although Reading were denied as clear a penalty as you are likely to see when Barrow was scythed down from behind after he had given the Bolton defence the slip. Nevertheless a draw was a fair result.

Seventeen year old Holmes was given a surprise first team debut and Clement moved to right wing back. Aluko retuned and Bodvarsson found himself back on the bench as Martin was preferred to play the lone striker. Evans and Edwards were jointly responsible for providing a defensive shield for the central defenders. After a shaky start Holmes acquitted himself well but it was not an ideal game in which to make a debut. Jaakkola was selected ahead of Mannone and although he made a couple of decent saves looked uneasy in dealing with crosses either staying on his line or flapping at the ball in an unconvincing manner.

There were brief moments when Reading reverted to passing the ball around at the back which was nearly disastrous. Kelly played an uncharacteristically sloppy pass to present Le Fondre with a golden opportunity to open the scoring. Much to everyone’s relief (not least Kelly) the former Reading favourite put his shot over the bar. Minutes later Martin slipped a nice pass to Barrow down the left and the winger accelerated clear of the defence and drove the ball home from an acute angle to before running off the earn himself a yellow card for celebrating with the fans. That what happens I suppose when you get excited and enjoy yourself – clearly something that needs to be stamped out! Typical of recent games Reading’s joy was short-lived and the lead was relinquished before half time when a deep cross found two Bolton players in oceans of space on the right side of the Royals defence and the resulting cross to provid Le Fondre with the sort of chance he usually tucks away. With the scores level at the interval the result hung in the balance.

Bolton started the second half strongly and added to their mounting tally of corners (there were ten in total) and combined with long throw-ins gave the Reading a defence a thorough examination which to their credit they dealt with without too much difficulty. Swift and Bodvarsson were introduced to freshen up the attack but they had little joy. Barrow earned a penalty but the referee did not see it as such but he was fairly weak and inconsistent throughout so it was not a surprise when he waved play on. It was good to see Karacan given generous applause by the home fans when Parkinson brought him on midway through the second half. Bodvarsson had a half chance in stoppage time but neither team had really looked likely to score a second goal.

So Reading continue to limp towards the end of the season hoping they will eventually secure sufficient points to avoid the drop into League One. This evening’s game would not have looked out of place in a lower division. Survival still looks likely but it could get a lot more uncomfortable yet before their Championship status next season is confirmed and then there will have to be some significant changes before the club can get out the doldrums and move forward with a bit more optimism.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 623 days ago in the 2017/2018 season.