Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: L Joao (pen 4), S Aluko (43)
Bournemouth: D Solanke (56), A Groeneveld (59), L Cook (77), D Solanke (89)

Reading were replaced by a rampant Bournemouth at the top of the Championship table as their remarkable decline continued with a fourth successive defeat. Today having deservedly achieved a two goal lead by half time, they imploded in the second half against a very good Bournemouth side conceding four goals. Make no mistake about it Bournemouth passed the ball extremely well, and are certain to be one of the leading contenders for the title, but this was a worrying capitulation from a team which had made such an impressive start to the season.

With players returning from injury Reading had pretty much a full strength squad available for this important match. They couldn’t have wished for a better start. After three minutes Samedo was brought down by ‘keeper Begovic after weaving his way past two Bournemouth defenders in the box. Joao took the spot kick with confidence, power, and precision, to give The Royals the lead. The home side continued to dominate possession with some slick passing but their final pass was letting them down so failed to create the chances their possession merited. Bournemouth attacked predominantly down their left flank and Esteves coped well with the pressure keeping Danjuma and Rico at bay. Brooks tested Raphael with a shot from inside the box on nineteen minutes but for most of the half Raphael was rarely called upon as Reading were very secure at the back.

Reading eased their way back into the game and extended their lead following a move which illustrated the best of football. After an exchange of one touch passes outside the Bournemouth box, Ejaria carried the ball a couple of strides and slid a perfectly weighted and timed pass through the Bournemouth back line to meet Aluko’s equally perfectly timed run. Aluko, without breaking stride stroked the ball inside the post past Begovic. It was a goal of the highest quality. In stoppage time Stanislav had the chance to pull a goal back for The Cherries from a free kick, but his effort was superbly saved by Raphael. The two goal lead looked very secure at half time.

Bournemouth manager Jason Tindall made a tactical substitution at half time which immediately paid dividends. With Mepham on at centre back, and Rico off, Kelly moved to wing back. The change, combined with Aluko and Esteves having an awful start to the second half, resulted in two Bournemouth goals in quick succession. On fifty-six minutes Kelly whipped in an excellent cross from the left which was tucked away from close range by Solanke. Two minutes later Bournemouth were level when Brooks took advantage of Esteves being out of position, slipping a ball behind the defence for Danjuma to beat Raphael (who obligingly sat down) at the near post. Paunovic had seen enough and replaced Aluko and Esteves with Olise and Holmes. Reading rallied briefly and were more positive going forward. Olise on won a free kick on the right of the Bournemouth penalty area but then presented the ball to Cook with a truly dreadful pass. The Cherries broke forward and when the ball came back to Cook outside the box he struck a brilliant shot which gave Raphael no chance.

There was still time for Reading to save a point, and they came close from a corner. Joao got his head to the cross and Begovic just managed to claw the ball off the line. The final nail in Reading’s coffin came in stoppage time when Raphael raced out to clear a long ball. Although the Reading ‘keeper was first to the ball, he was far from positive with his attempted clearance which hit Solanke. Raphael declined a second chance to clear the ball and was dispossessed by Solanke who gratefully accepted the gift, chipping the ball into the empty net to rub salt into Reading’s self-inflicted wounds.

The next few games will be a test of character for the players, and of the ability of manager Veljko Paunovic to restore confidence and belief within a squad which must be feeling bemused, if not demoralised, by the recent run of defeats, and in particular, by the nature of this one.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 252 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.