Royals in frustrating home stalemate
Saturday 6th December 2014
Reading and Bolton fought out a frustrating stalemate at the Madejski Stadium, with the home side having the majority of the chances.
Nigel Adkins unsurprisingly named an unchanged line-up from the team that beat Norwich last week, meaning he kept the unexperienced duo of Hector and Cooper in the heart of the defence. Bolton started the game well, keeping early possession and being patient to find the right opening, with Max Clayton having the first minor one, as his driven low cross was just missed by the boot of Craig Davies.
The Royals were struggling to get the ball, but when they did, were very direct, often aiming at McCleary and Robson-Kanu on the wings. Set pieces was our most notable threat in the first half and brought about our first half chance, as Murray attacked Obita`s near post corner, but the angle was too tight and headed over the bar. It was far from a spectacle at the Madejski Stadium, with both keepers untested.
Ollie Norwood fancied his luck from a long-range free-kick, but despite getting the technique right, the direction wasn`t troubling Lonergan in the Bolton goal. We had a late surge in the final five minutes of the half and it came from a set piece - a corner wasn`t cleared by the away side and an effort on goal was blocked by a Reading player, before Bolton blocked another effort, before scrambling it away.
At half-time in this fixture last season, in January, we were already 4-0 up - I would put this down to more Bolton`s dreadful defending on that day, compared to us not being at the races in this game. There were some boos that met the half-time whistle from Royals fans, which was slightly harsh, even if it was a very poor game. While Bolton were not creating much, they would have been happy enough.
Glenn Murray has not scored in four games coming into this one, but had the ball in the net just minutes into the second period - the linesman`s flag denied him his goal though and rightly so on first viewing. It was Adam Federici who was the first keeper drawn into the action and what a superb save it was - Ream was unmarked at the back post and the Australian somehow changed direction to claw it away.
Bolton continued to look vulnerable from corners once again, as Michael Hector had a great chance from five yards, but couldn`t keep his header down. This was our best spell of the game, putting Neil Lennon`s side under good pressure, with Norwood going very close and Jake Cooper having a fantastic chance at the back post, after Lonergan made a good save from the young centre-half`s header.
While Bolton were not enjoying as much possession as they were in the first half, they were looking dangerous on the break - the impressive Lee Chung-Yong fed Pratley into space in the area, but dragged his effort wide. Adkins introduced Cox and Blackman into the fold to try and get that elusive winner with twenty minutes to play, but it seemed they were brought on too late to have an impact on the game.
Lonergan was having an impressive second-half and made another good save, as Danny Williams tried his luck from long-range, but the keeper pushed it away from danger. Cox very nearly worked an opening after showing good feet to fox Mills and Dervite, but didn`t have the end product to feed Murray or work a shot. Murray had the last effort of the game with a header, but couldn`t find the target.
The final whistle was met with some boos, but seemed more muted disappointment, as we failed to build on the Norwich victory last week. The attacking football on display may have been dire, but a clean sheet is always a boost and tough to achieve in this division. The point leaves us seven points off the relegation zone and seven points off the play-offs, so it is all to play for over the busy Christmas period.
Reading - 4-3-3: Federici; Kelly, Hector, Cooper, Gunter; Norwood, Williams, Obita; McCleary, Robson-Kanu, Murray.
Subs: Andersen, Pearce, Cummings, Tshibola, Taylor, Blackman, Cox.
Bolton - 4-5-1: Lonergan; Vela, Mills, Dervite, Ream; Feeney, Pratley, Danns, Lee, Clayton; Davies.
Subs: Bogdan, Wheater, Moxey, Spearing, Hall, Mason, Wilkinson.