Reading FC Match Report: 2023/2024 Season - League One


READING 2 BOLTON 1

Reading: C Savage (77), C Vickers (86)
Bolton: D Charles (20)

A stunning long range strike from Charlie Savage, and a sharp near post finish from the lively and energetic Vickers, completed a brilliant comeback by the current youthful and talented Reading team. It was the perfect response to the most recent EFL points deduction setback earlier in the week. The home fans, showing solidarity in their support for the players, were right behind the team from start to finish spurring them on to a morale-boosting win and a valuable three points. At the moment the club seems to be treading water in terms of building the season's campaign, but there is an undoubted spark of energy and enthusiasm within the club in spite of the apparent shortcomings from the club's owner.

It was a frustrating first half overall for Reading. Littered with errors from both sides, Reading were showing individual flashes of flair and skill. Bolton on the other hand looked sluggish and vulnerable at the back but Reading were unable to take advantage of their shortcomings. Bolton took the lead against the run of play after twenty minutes following a stoppage to clear the tennis balls lobbed on to the pitch by Reading fans protesting against the owner's mismanagement of the clubs finances. Bindon allowed Charles to get goal side just outside the box and was neither quick nor strong enough to recover. Bolton's leading scorer rifled home an impressive finish from a tight angle.

Reading reacted positively. Williams decked new signing Ballard as he went past him and slipped the ball to Azeeez who rattled the frame of the goal with ‘keeper Baxter beaten. Credit to referee Swabey for letting play continue but Williams can count himself lucky for not picking up Bolton's third yellow even at that early stage of the game. Bolton were not averse to employing cynical challenges to stifle Reading's attack throughout picking up two of their six yellow cards in the opening sixteen minutes. Ironically, minutes later Ballard wriggled past his man and was apparently clattered from behind in the box and picked up a yellow for simulation. Would have liked see that one again but Sky didn't consider it worth a second viewing!

Bolton had chances to extend their lead before half time mainly due to unforced errors by Reading at the back. Decision-making at times was naive to say the least, but some last ditch defending kept the deficit to one goal at the interval.

The introduction of Elliot and Mukaira after fifty-six minutes gave Reading a lift and suddenly Bolton began to look decidedly ragged at the back. A brilliant Baxter full stretch save kept out a powerful strike Mukaria from Elliot's cross. With under twenty minute remaining, Savage, always willing to take on a strike from outside the box, drilled one past Baxter which flew in off the inside of the post. The momentum was clearly with Reading now and Selles piled on the pressure with further substitutions. Mola and Ehibhatiomhan were not combining well on the left and were replaced by McIntyre and Vickers respectively, and with Mbengue replacing Hutchinson Reading were clearly not going to settle for a draw.

Reading swarmed forward full of confidence, switching the play and using the full width of the pitch. Bolton simply could not cope with Reading's slick passing and movement. The winner was gem of a team goal. Mbengue played a one two on the right wing before sliding a perfect ball into the near post. Vickers' movement was outstanding, leaving the statuesque Bolton defence rooted to the spot as he nipped in to deftly tuck away close range finish. Bolton were reduced to ten men when Toal picked up a second yellow in stoppage time, but Bolton were well and truly beaten by then. It is tempting fate say this team is too good to go down, but in my opinion it is going to require a lot more EFL intervention to keep this group of players in the lower half to the league this season.

John Wells

This League One game took place 166 days ago in the 2023/2024 season.