Lacklustre Royals beaten by Bournemouth
Saturday 7th December 2013
Reading fell to their first home defeat of the season, as visitors Bournemouth scored two first half goals on their way to victory at the Madejski Stadium.
Nigel Adkins made the rather odd decision to drop Pavel Pogrebnyak, who was replaced by Hal Robson-Kanu in the starting XI. Stephen Kelly was also dropped to the bench, for the returning Chris Gunter, while Billy Sharp kept his place in the side. Reading have started well in their past two games and followed the same pattern in this game, putting the visitors under pressure.
Billy Sharp almost added to his first goal for the club that he got on Tuesday night against Charlton, with a header from a Jordan Obita corner, but Andrew Surman cleared it off the line. From the resulting corner, Sharp was on the end of it again, but to no avail, as his header cleared the bar. The Cherries were struggling to get into the game in the opening twenty minutes.
The corner count was nearing double figures for the home side, but couldn`t take advantage, thanks to some very resolute defending from the away side. Eddie Howe`s side did gradually improve as the game went on though and had their first effort through Lewis Grabban, which drifted just wide. However, minutes later and ironically enough, it was through a set piece they scored the opener.
A ball was whipped into the Royals area and failed to clear it - Surman attacked it, which forced a great save out of Alex McCarthy, but was helpless to prevent Lewis Grabban smashing in the rebound. It was underserved for the away side, but rightfully took the chance that they got, with Reading failing to create a single clear cut chance in the game so far.
Bournemouth`s tails were up and scored a second goal minutes later, as the hosts looked shell shocked. Matt Ritchie received the ball on the edge of the box was allowed to turn, but despite shaping to play a ball into Grabban, opted to shoot into the bottom corner with a precise strike. Reading were getting what they deserved to failing to make use of their possession.
Adkins had to make a change at half time and he did, brining on Pogrebnyak for the ineffective Robson-Kanu. Reading had a more attacking outlook, but would obviously leave more space in the midfield for Bournemouth to exploit, which they were doing. The Cherries were searching for a third to seal the game and Ritchie had another effort at goal from long range, drifting just over.
If anything, the Royals were showing more of an attacking threat in the first half than they were the second, lacking to create any space or opportunities for Pogrebnyak or Sharp. Marc Pugh almost sealed the points on the hour mark, as he almost got on the end of Grabban`s shot-cross. Royston Drenthe was brought on following a long injury lay-off and looked like Reading`s only threat.
We have seen some great comebacks at the Madejski Stadium in recent years, but it didn`t look like it was going to happen. Bournemouth`s defence line were very stubborn and the midfield were leaving no space in behind at all - Guthrie and Williams couldn`t get in the game. Adam Le Fondre did get one back in injury time, as he pounced on Drenthe`s superb run and deflected effort.
Despite this late hope, it was all too little too late for Reading, who struggled to break down the away side. We lose our unbeaten record at home to a side we should be beating, but they definitely deserved the points on the day. Adkins` team selection and tactics have to be questioned, but all we can do is move onto the next one, against Huddersfield next week.
Reading - 4-4-2: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Cummings, McCleary, Guthrie, Williams, Obita, Robson-Kanu, Sharp
Subs: Federici, Kelly, McAnuff, Drenthe, Blackman, Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak
Bournemouth - 4-5-1: Camp, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, Surman, O`Kane, Pugh, Grabban
Subs: Flahavan, Harte, Yennaris, MacDonald, Fraser, Rantie, Pitman