Why Tonight’s Match Against Bolton Needs To End With A Reading Victory

“Bolton is about going out and getting some points on the board. We’re still not safe from relegation and you keep looking over your shoulder.”Steve Clarke

It is safe to say that recent Reading form is not the most impressive. With twelve matches left to play in the Championship, things are looking tight and Reading need to start putting some results together. Two 3-0 defeats on the bounce, and several defeats to lower placed teams including Leeds, Wigan and Huddersfield have seen the Royals drop to 18th in the league.

Tonight, Reading face Bolton at the Macron Stadium. Bolton are only one place above Reading in 17th, being level on points and having a slightly better goal difference. Despite a good run of form at home, Bolton have won only three of their last ten matches in the league. During these matches, however, they have still managed to find the net sixteen times. In comparison, Reading have also won only three of their last ten games in the Championship but have only managed to score six goals. Bolton’s problem is that, while they can clearly score goals, they also struggle to keep them out at the other end.

“I don’t know if Reading prioritise the cup but once you get to the quarter-final stage you must start thinking about the semi-finals and the final.“- Neil Lennon

The timing of tonight’s match, only a few days before Reading take on Bradford in the FA Cup, is one reason why Reading need to win against Bolton and get things back on track. Many will already be thinking that Reading minds will already be focussed on Saturday’s match, including Bolton manager Neil Lennon. Going into the cup game losing three in a row, however, will do nothing to help the Reading players’ confidence. Even though Bradford are a lower league team, with ex-Royal Phil Parkinson at the helm at home, they must fancy their chances. Going into the game on the back of an away win at Bolton, will be exactly the kind of preparation the Royals will benefit from.

A certain member of the opposition, who Reading fans will be well aware of, will definitely make life difficult for the Royals. Adam Le Fondre, who for financial reasons was part of the cull at the end of last season following three seasons at Reading, originally signed for Cardiff. In January Le Fondre was then loaned out by Cardiff to Bolton for the remainder of the season. Since joining Bolton, Le Fondre has scored three goals in seven games, most recently in their games against Nottingham Forest and Watford in February. Scoring against some tough opposition so far this season, and having scored fifteen goals in his last season with the Royals, Reading fans are fully aware of the kind of threat Le Fondre will pose for Bolton. Along with 19-year-old Zach Clough, who has scored six goals in nine games, Bolton have a strike force that is fully capable of easing to victory.

The statistics are not on Reading’s side going into the game. At Bolton, Reading have won only one of the last twelve meetings in all competitions and that was back in 2007. This season, Bolton have also only lost one of their last eleven matches at home. Reading have also only won one of the last five meetings between the clubs, their last victory since 2007 being the memorable 7-1 victory at the Madejski in 2014. It is worth mentioning, however, that in that victory Le Fondre scored a first half hat-trick to help the Royals to victory.  

With Reading seemingly performing better away from home, hopefully this can be the match to turn things around and get back on track. Losing another game to opposition in a similar league position will not help Reading confidence in the slightest. The Royals will definitely have their work cut out for them and it will soon be seen if their minds are already focussed on Saturday’s cup match.


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