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Bolton - Reading (Championship) - Match Preview

Three points on the board last week against Ipswich, and next on the agenda for Reading is a trip up to the Reebok Stadium to face Bolton Wanderers. They started off with a draw away at Burnley last Saturday - they'll be hoping for the perfect start at home against the Royals.

Ben Hoskins

Form Guide

Reading 2-1 Ipswich - The Royals kicked off the season with a battling win against Ipswich, which saw them come from behind to finally get their noses in front and hold on to the final whistle. Ex-Royal Jay Tabb opened the scoring before a bundled effort from Adam Le Fondre and a speculative strike from Danny Guthrie secured the points. It wasn't a faultless performance, but Reading are learning with every minute on the pitch.

Burnley 1-1 Bolton - Wanderers started the season with a local derby against the Clarets, and managed to get a point up at Turf Moor. David Wheater deflected the ball into his own net for the Burnley opener, before Darren Pratley equalised with a sweetly struck effort from the top of the box. That was one of only two meaningful shots Bolton strikers had in that match, according to our Town End blogger Paul Yesilevskiy - they'll be hoping to build on that tomorrow.

Home/Away Records

Last season Bolton had the second best home record in the Championship, only behind champions Cardiff. Of their 23 home matches, they won 14, drew 6 and lost just 3 - those to Crystal Palace, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town. It was their away record which let them down, as they missed out on a playoff place only on goal difference - 48 of their 68 points coming at the Reebok. Last season they opened the home account with a 2-0 win against Derby County.

Compare and contrast with the Royals' away record last term, which was the worst in the Premier League, picking up just two wins (Fulham, Newcastle) and two draws (QPR, Swansea). A bit of a surprise seeing as Reading had the 2nd best away record in the Championship the year we won promotion, including massive victories at West Ham and Southampton. Which Reading will show up away from the Mad Stad this season?

Head To Head

This'll be the first time the teams have met since the 2007/08 Premier League season, when Bolton recorded the double over Reading, winning 2-0 away before a 3-0 victory at home.

It was slightly better the year before that, as Steve Coppell's men won 3-1 at the Reebok, and 1-0 at the Mad Stad. Kevin Doyle grabbed the only goal at home, as well as a brace up in Lancashire - Stephen Hunt added the other.

And there's the small matter of that game in 1995...

Team News

After last week, I get the feeling that Nigel Adkins' sides are going to be harder to predict than Brian McDermott's... He threw nearly every Reading fan a curveball with the omission of Adrian Mariappa, who wasn't even on the bench, let alone starting. I don't think we'll see a change at centre-back, but Stephen Kelly might return to offer a more defensive option than Chris Gunter at right-back.

Danny Williams came on as a substitute against Ipswich and looked very good, but I'm not sure he'll be fit enough to start at the Reebok - Jem Karacan and Danny Guthrie might continue where they left off last Saturday. Jobi McAnuff was only on the bench for the season opener but he could come back into the side, again to offer a more defensive shape at the expense of Hal Robson-Kanu, who was a little off the pace last week.

Up top, and again Adkins surprised many by starting Adam Le Fondre ahead of Pavel Pogrebnyak. The big Russian might return to the side as long as he's demonstrated commitment to the team in training, as ALF was a little isolated last week - something which an away game will only accentuate. Nick Blackman has returned from suspension and could be on the bench, but Jimmy Kebe and Jason Roberts remain on the sidelines with injury.

Bolton blogger Paul Yesilevskiy told us in his preview that the two wingers, Chris Eagles and Chung-Yong Lee, picked up knocks away at Burnley on the first day and so those two are still doubts for tomorrow. Jay Spearing has joined on loan and could start the match.

Likely Lineups

Bolton: Bogdan; Baptiste, Wheater, Knight, Tierney; Ngog, Spearing, Pratley, Ream; Medo, Beckford

Reading: McCarthy; Kelly, Pearce, Morrison, Bridge; McAnuff, Karacan, Drenthe, Guthrie, McCleary; Pogrebnyak

The Ref

The man who delivers secret messages about injury time to the fourth official will be Carl Boyeson. He kicked off his season showing four yellow cards in Leeds-Chesterfield in midweek. Last term he showed 83 yellows and 2 reds in 34 games, largely at Championship and League One level. His one match with Bolton last season saw them lose 2-1 at St Andrews against Birmingham.

Best Odds

Bolton 7/5

Draw 5/2

Reading 9/4

The Tilehurst End Prediction

Setting aside the usual cliché about tough places to go, there's no doubt that Bolton will be extremely difficult to beat at the Reebok, as they demonstrated last season. However, Reading definitely have the quality and pace to set up for counter-attacks, and I think we can sneak a draw at least. 2-2 would be my call.