Reading FC Match Report: 2021/2022 Season - Championship


Reading: T Ince (83)
Bournemouth: D Solanke (8)

A superb strike by Tom Ince in the eighty-third minute salvaged crucial point for the Royals against high flying Bournemouth. More significantly, the performance which produced the result, will undoubtedly provide a much needed boost to morale amongst the squad and the fans. To take on a team closing in on top spot in the league at this stage of the season on their own patch, and completely outplay them, will provide the belief that they avoid relegation at the end of the season. The mood was epitomised by a clearly elated Josh Laurent at the final whistle celebrating amongst the travelling away fans.

Interim manager Paul Ince has received a fair amount of criticism in recent weeks, but undoubtedly his team selection a tactics were entirely right for this encounter. The deployment of Laurent, who had what was probably his best game of the season supporting Joao up front, was a master stroke. Laurent made forward runs putting pressure on the Cherries back line and was pressing and winning the ball high up the pitch. Basically he put Reading on the front foot. The role clearly suited him as he turned in a performance full of energy and enthusiasm which was an inspiration to his team, particularly in the second half.

After a hesitant and edgy start Reading’s fragile defence was breached again, Bournemouth taking the lead after only eight minutes. Solanke worked a one two in the box with Lerma and finished clinically. Reading. Reading fans looked on wondering if they were about to witness another embarrassing capitulation. Their fears were not realised and Reading reacted well and began to test Bournemouth’s defence. It was also re-assuring when Nyland, Reading’s fourth goalkeeper this season making his debut, got down smartly to his left to make a good save from Stacey. Rhinomhota was set up by Yiadom but his well struck shot was straight at Travers. . Ejaria came into the game was beginning to unhinge the Bournemouth defence with his ability to go past players. Just before the interval Ince floated a tempting cross to the far post but Travers just got a vital touch on the ball to deny Joao.

The Bournemouth pitch it has to be said was immaculate and Reading took full advantage of the fine surface to attack the hosts with some slick passing after half time. Reading attacked with pace precision and penetration particularly down the right flank. With the full backs driving forward and Rhinomhota and Drinkwater anchoring midfield and getting the ball out wide Bournemouth were stretched. It was all Reading now and their growing confidence was evident in their passing and eagerness to get the ball first. Pressure mounted on Bournemouth and Reading fans sensed their team might take something out of the game. Ince floated in another delightful ball to the far post which was dropping to Joao before Phillips intervened. As with the previous ball from Ince, I was left wondering if a more determined effort to get his head on it might have been more productive than dangling a foot at the ball.

Joao was being bullied Kelly and Phillips, and the referee allowed a lot go. Perhaps he should have taken action to prevent the Bournemouth defenders from persistently manhandling him. That said Joao did not show much appetite for the battle and in spite of showing some nice touches was having limited impact. Anyway, Ince decided the more aggressive and physical Meite would be a preferable option for the last fifteen minutes, and Miete obliged by winning the ball in the air a couple of times and he did not allow Kelly and Phillips to have it all their own way. The change was not appreciated by the Reading fans, but may have been the right decision in spite of the outstanding touch and ability which Joao brings to the attack.

With seven minute remaining a Reading corner was only half cleared and dropped to Ince, lurking just outside the box. The manager’s son kept his eye on the ball and set himself up with an excellent first touch before hammering it into the top right corner. The Reading fans ecstatic celebrations had to be restrained by stewards and police near the touchline. Their joy and relief was understandable given the quality of the strike, the significance of the goal, and pleasure at seeing their team finally take a game by the scruff of neck and come back from a losing position.

Hopefully this is a turning point in the relegation battle, but this level of performance is going to be required in all the remaining matches, the most significant of those coming at Oakwell on 2nd April.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 378 days ago in the 2021/2022 season.