Reading FC Match Report: 2021/2022 Season - Championship


Reading: --
Bournemouth: D Solanke (43), J Lowe (59)

Reading's threadbare squad predictably succumbed to unbeaten league leaders Bournemouth this evening, conceding just before half time from a set piece, and again early in the second half when Danny Drinkwater carelessly gifted possession just outside his own box leaving substitute Lowe to calmly steer home the killer second goal. Before and between the Cherries goals Reading squandered good chances to take the lead or equalise. Once again Reading's only experienced striker, out of form George Puscas, failed miserably in front of goal. Ironically, there was little to choose between the sides over the ninety minutes in terms of possession, attempts of goal, and corners. The obvious difference between the sides was plain for all to see.

In spite of the disappointing result, which extends the current run of defeats to three games, credit must be given to this group of players for the significant improvement in attitude and commitment since the recent capitulation against Blackpool. Even at two down against a strong side there was no lack of character and desire. In particular this was exemplified by the leadership provided by Yiadom who worked tirelessly both in defence and attack and didn't hold back when it came to vocal prompting of his team mates. Laurent was still driving forward to the end, and Ejaria continues maintain the improvement in his defensive qualities. It was noticeable how difficult Bournemouth found it to break Reading down in the first half and the number of times their pressing game put Reading on the front foot. In short Reading looked like a team who cared, but paid a heavy price for profligacy in front of goal and lapses of concentration in defence in key moments in the game.

Reading had the better of the opening twenty minutes and arguably the better chances in the first half overall. Puscas couldn't sort his feet out to poke home from close range, Laurent ended a penetrating run with a wild and wayward strike. Yiadom was getting past his full back but couldn't find a telling ball. Swift exposed Cahill's weakness by dispossessing him in the box and finding an unmarked Puscas with a flamboyant cross. All that was required was for Puscas open his body to let the ball run across him and side-foot past Travers, but typically he made the wrong decision and jabbed at the ball with the outside of his right foot and the ball drifted wide. The turning point in the game came when Drinkwater conceded a corner with a heavy touch. (He was having that sort of day.) The corner was driven beyond the far post and Cahill was allowed to drop off the defence and head the ball back across goal where Solanke, again unopposed was able to nod over the line from close range.

Bournemouth were now in the driving seat but the game was still far from over until Drinkwater's lapse which allowed Bournemouth to establish a two goal cushion and switch to cruise control as a weary Reading, bereft of options on the bench, tired and ultimately lost their shape, and never looked like getting back in to the game. Travers was forced to make his first save of the match from a nicely directed Scott Dann header in stoppage time. At the final whistle Bournemouth fans celebrated as if they had won the title, which is a distinct possibility on current form.

A couple of talking points arising from the game. Having found it difficult to break out of their own half against Blackpool, Paunovic decide to leave two players up field when defending a corner in the first half. It would have been interesting to see how effective that tactic might have been but it was not repeated raising questions about the tactical decision-making on the pitch.

The other issue has nothing to do with events on the pitch. This season the club has decided not to publish a programme, which is a bit sad, but there may be sound financial, or even environmental reasons, for that decision. However there was no announcement or display on the big screen during the game to inform fans of the players named as substitutes for Reading. As for the away side there was no way of identifying the players on the pitch either apart from the names and on the shirt. Even the goal scorers were not announced. As far as Reading are concerned the numbers are totally illegible from the stands. I may be old fashioned but I quite like to be able to identify the players (of both teams) when I am watching. Also, given the number of injured players this season, it could prove to be a bit of a challenge, even for Royals fans, to know who is playing if any of those blokes running up and down the touchline in Reading kit during the game are ever allowed onto the pitch!

John Wells

This Championship game took place 514 days ago in the 2021/2022 season.