Reading FC Match Report: 2018/2019 Season - Championship


Reading: --
Bolton: Y Wildschut (48)

The inability of Reading to find the back of the net has been a problem for a long time now and it is one which is stubbornly refusing to go away. After controlling the game in the first half The Royals were caught napping at the back shortly after half time and fell behind to a calmly taken chance by substitute Wildshut. From that point onwards the outcome looked inevitable as Bolton sat back and stifled any attempts by Reading to pick their way through a tight defensive formation. Reading simply lacked the imagination and creativity to create a clear opening, failing to register a single shot attempt on target in the entire second half. This third successive defeat in the league creates the grim statistic of being their worst start to a season since 1959!

Having narrowly lost the opening two matches in spite of some encouraging performances there was degree of optimism from home fans going in to this game, and the first half display offered further encouragement. After a shaky five minutes in which Bolton’s direct approach cause some anxious moments in the Reading defence, new signings Baldock and McNulty linked up well and began to find openings in the visitors defence. Baldock was particularly effective dropping off the defence receive the ball and spin past defenders. Meyler and Swift probed with some penetrating passes and when Baldock’s sharp turn drew a clumsy foul on the edge of the box Swift’s free kick needed a good save from Alnwick to keep it out. The Bolton ‘keeper was unable to hold on to the ball but it was scrambled away. Wheater went in to the book for clattering Baldock from behind as he continued to torment the Bolton back four with his movement. Meite almost opened the scoring as he wriggled through the centre of the Bolton defence but was unable to finish under pressure and seemed to feel he was fouled as Bolton cleared the danger. Bolton had the best chance of the half when McShane was (once again) impeded as he leapt to head the ball and the ball fell kindly for Bolton. The ball was slipped to Buckley who shot tamely and his effort was saved by Manone. He really should have scored. At the other end Baldock found space in the box but his shot curled on target but at a nice height and pace for Alnwick to save with ease. Reading were dominating possession and looked more likely to score than Bolton. Blackett was caught out of position and was booked when he resorted to a clumsy challenge to break up a promising Bolton break. The main danger for Reading was an error at the back as they pressed forward.

That error came three minutes after half time. The inquest will I am sure go on well into next week but basically the Reading back four were caught sleeping and horribly square when Wildshut was allowed to run unchallenged through a huge gap in the centre of the defence onto a Noone trough ball and calmly slide the ball past an unprotected Manone. Bolton could not have wished for a better start and from that point all they needed to do was sit back and watch Reading pass the ball around in front of their defensive shield until they were conceded possession in tight situations in and around the box. When Reading did get a sight of goal the opportunities were spurned as for example the ball dropped to Meyler on the edge of the box and he neither attempted the inviting volley or controlled it to get a shot away, which was a pity because his touch overall was excellent. The introduction of Bodvarsson and Bacuna in place of McNulty and Meyler made little difference. There were neat touches from Swift but he was often slow to move the ball on or ran into trouble. Popa came on for the last five minutes and fired wide but the lack of belief throughout the team was evident in the poor quality of passing and shooting when it really mattered.

Breaking down a team camped on the edge of their box and wasting time at every opportunity is always going to be difficult to overcome. Bolton ‘keeper Alnwick was allowed to waste a ludicrous amount of time, and when finally spoked to by referee Linington, his response was, to put it politely, disrespectful. Barrow was missed today, and his return will certainly provide more of a cutting edge which could be crucial over the coming weeks. It is far too early in the season to draw any long term conclusions about the rest of the season. Reading however need to pick up some points soon to bring back a little self-belief but I’m not so sure away fixtures against Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa are going to be helpful in achieving that particular goal.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 1205 days ago in the 2018/2019 season.