Royals outplayed by rising Bournemouth
Tuesday 8th April 2014
A disastrous first half defensive display cost Reading, as they were well-beaten by a Bournemouth side, whose victory has made the play-off race more interesting.
Nigel Adkins originally made just one change to the side, with Wayne Bridge playing his first game in nearly five months for the injured Danny Williams, but a further midfield blow was handed when Danny Guthrie was injured in the warm up. This meant that Robson-Kanu was promoted to the starting XI, with McAnuff and Obita in central midfield, which really did pave the way for the game.
We started well on the south-coast though, with Jordan Obita forcing an early save from Lee Camp, but this was to be the Royals` only shot on target in a disastrous first period. Bournemouth took the lead minutes later, as a long-ball over the top caused havoc for Gorkss, with Grabban toying with him, before teeing up Matt Ritchie to fire into corner of the net, giving McCarthy no chance.
Grabban and Ritchie then combined again to give the former Swindon midfielder a second goal of the game, as Reading failed to clear their lines and his close-range finish was summing up our awful defending. We were struggling to put three passes together, let alone form a decent attacking, with Drenthe`s cross-field ball nearly giving Robson-Kanu a chance, but wasted good space he had.
We were getting punished by playing a high line, which was suicide with Gorkss and Pearce as a centre-half pairing and were undone again, after a smart one-two on the half way line set Grabban away, but could only place his effort wide. A third goal was to become just before half time though, as Yann Kermorgant headed home, after Bridge failed to track his man well enough on the left.
Boos were ringing from the away end, as an awful defensive showing meant that the game was near enough gone, but our goal difference was certainly taking a pounding. There were surprisingly no chances at half time from Adkins and therefore, there was no real improvement in the early stages of the second half, with the only positive being that we did not concede any more goals.
Lewis Grabban`s performance was deserving of a goal and nearly added more gloss to the scoreline, but despite being given space on the edge of the area, fired well-over the goal. Some positives were that Bridge managed to get an hour under his belt and that Mikele Leigertwood returned from injury after a year out - it was just a shame that he couldn`t start the game, with a midfield injury crisis.
Bournemouth were not carrying the same attacking threat as they were in the second half, but didn`t need to, as the game was already won for them in the first half. There was a consolation goal for us travelling fans to celebrate though, as Hal Robson-Kanu`s superb left-footed strike from twenty yards gave minor hope with fifteen minutes left to play, but was false hope in end.
A response from Adkins` side was minimal after this goal though, despite a decent amount of possession in the closing stages of the game. Bournemouth ran out deserved winners in the end and there is no doubting Eddie Howe`s side are on a superb run at the moment, but our defending was shambolic and diabolical in the first half, which ultimately lost us the game in the end.
The play-off race is hotting up now and with some tough games to go, we are certainly not in as good as a position as we were prior to Tuesday evening. It`s simple - win our five remaining games and were in the play-offs. Will it be that simple? Of course not. All I know is that we need to be much better defensively to have any of chance of getting in the play offs, let alone winning them!
Bournemouth - 4-4-1-1: Camp, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Harte, Ritchie, Surman, O`Kane, Pugh, Kermorgant, Grabban
Subs: Allsop, Ward, Smith, MacDonald, Fraser, Pitman, Rantie
Reading - 4-4-2: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Bridge, Drenthe, McAnuff, Obita, Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Federici, Morrison, Kelly, Leigertwood, Blackman, McCleary