Reading in seven heaven with Bolton mauling
Saturday 18th January 2014
Reading put in their best performance of the season, as they smashed seven goals opponents Bolton at the Madejski Stadium, as the Royals moved back into the play-off places.
Nigel Adkins named an unchanged team from the side that won at Watford last week - only the second time he has done this in his entire Reading career. It was a fairly open start to the game, with both sides having their fair share of possession, with the visitors possibly shading it in attacking threat. Garath McCleary had an early effort just wide, after good work on the middle of the park.
We made a good start at Watford and continued in that vein as we took the lead just thirteen minutes into this one, as Adam le Fondre`s predatory instincts were on display again, as he lashed the ball into the net from ten yards, following good work from McCleary. After a month of uncertainly around his future, he was starting to prove himself to his manager.
The key moment in the match was then to become, as David N`Gog found space in behind the Royals backline and was clear, but on his weaker side was thwarted by McCarthy, who made a fantastic save to deny Bolton their best goalscoring chance of the game. This would then lay the foundations for the rest of the game, it what would be one to remember for a long time.
Reading doubled their lead just before the half hour mark, as Pogrebnak and Le Fondre linked up again well, with the Russian knocking the ball on for Alfie to race through and calmly place the ball past Lonergan for his second. We were looking a completely different side to the one we have seen for the majority of the season - playing at a much higher tempo.
Just minutes later, we had a third goal and no guesses for the person who got it! A crucial slip by Tim Ream allowed Garath McCleary to race through clear and very unselfishly squared for Le Fondre for a simple tap in, to celebrate his first hat trick for Reading. There was a glimmer of hope for Bolton as Obita misjudged his header and Danns took advantage, but his shot went just wide of the post.
Adkins would have been proud of his side`s performance in the first half and it was only going to get better, as his side were awarded a penalty just before half time. Obita made a bombarding run down the left side and crossed into the area, but was handled by Baptiste in the area according to the referee. Pavel Pogrebnyak stepped up to score the penalty, with Alfie`s hat trick already in the bag.
Dougie Freedman would have been disgusted with his side`s defending in the first half, but what was he expected with Matt Mills at the back? Joking aside, Bolton made a good start to the second period, as Lee`s header at the back post was put into the perfect area for Mark Davies to attack, but the midfielder`s effort wasn`t troubling McCarthy in the Reading goal.
The chances didn`t stop flowing for the home side though, with credit going to Adkins for keeping the team on the front foot in the second half despite the big lead. Alfie should have added a fourth to his tally, as Pog`s header at the back post put it on a plate for him, but the ball was too high to make proper contact on the turn and fired over the bar from five yards.
Danny Williams was having his best game in a Reading shirt, but is still yet to score his first goal for the Royals. He looked motivated to change this though, attempting an effort from long-range, but went harmlessly wide. It was five on the hour mark though, as Bolton failed to clear the ball properly and Pearce`s cross-shot was flicked in by Kaspars Gorkss for two goals in two games for the Latvian.
A response from Bolton was non-existent, who looked deprived of any confidence, which certainly wasn`t helped by the scoreline. As Williams searched for his first Reading goal, his central midfielder partner Hope Akpan got his, as the away side once again failed to clear a ball in their box and the former Crawley man was on hand to smash the ball into the net from ten yards.
Could it get better? Yes, and certainly for Nick Blackman, who scored his first Madejski Stadium goal, which will give him a massive boost. Reading were carving Bolton open and Blackman raced away on the left side and his fierce shot deflected off Zat Knight and looped into the net for the seventh goal, but the goal was still rightfully credited to the substitute.
Danny Williams came one closer to opening his Royals account, this time after some superb passing football in the final third, his effort from twenty yards forced Lonergan into his first save of the match! There was time for one more goal though, but for the Trotters, as David N`Gog slid home a scrappy consolation, which would have been a minor disappointment for the defence.
The final whistle was blown to stadium full of cheer and joy, which hasn`t been said much in recent months. Two wins of the bounce is good enough for confidence as it is, let alone putting seven past a decent side in Bolton. We played with a much higher tempo and credit to Adkins for going against his own philosophy to play to our strengths in directness, despite some good passages of passing play on show.
Reading - 4-4-2: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita, McCleary, Akpan, Williams, McAnuff, Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Federici, Hector, Kelly, Cummings, J.Taylor, Drenthe, Blackman
Bolton - 4-4-1-1: Lonergan, Baptiste, Knight, Mills, Ream, Danns, M.Davies, Spearing, Lee, Pratley, N`Gog
Subs: Bogdan, White, Hall, Kamara, Odelusi, Eagles, C.Davies