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Reading FC 0-0 Bolton Wanderers: Sleep Inducing

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Reading returned to Berkshire for their first game at home in almost a month, playing out a dull 0-0 draw with Bolton Wanderers. Bucks Royal rounds up the action from an uneventful day at the Madejski.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

If you're in a hurry, the best summary of the match was 'nothing really happened'. Throughout the years I've been watching Reading at the Madejski, something vaguely interesting has gone on in about 98% of those games. Nigel Adkins and Neil Lennon may both be able to console themselves with a point and a clean sheet to take home, but the 15,421 fans sat freezing in the stands weren't so lucky - today's affair (it'd probably go down as false advertising to call it a game of football) can be categorised in that last 2%. With all of that in mind, here's my report on the few examples of the football being kicked meaningfully by either team.

Nigel Adkins kept the same starting XI for today's game against Bolton, with Alex Pearce replacing Anton Ferdinand on the bench the only change to the match-day squad. Reading appeared to line up in the same 4-1-4-1 that reared its head at Carrow Road a week earlier, with Oliver Norwood shielding the back four, Jordan Obita and Danny Williams playing just ahead of him, and Messrs McCleary and Robson-Kanu providing the width.

First Half

The first half saw few chances for either side, but Bolton started the better of the two - Max Clayton's pass across the Reading goal not quite picking any of the visiting players out. If the home side looked like scoring at all, it was from a set piece. An inswinging Jordan Obita corner was flicked on on the edge of the six-yard box, finding Murray who could only send his a header just over the bar at the far post. 30 minutes into the game, an Oliver Norwood free kick (central, 25 yards out) arced harmlessly over Andy Lonergan's bar.

Perhaps the best passage of play for the Royals came at the end of the first 45, Hal Robson-Kanu finding space on the left well before whipping in a dangerous cross that was cleared for a corner. From the resulting set-piece, Garath McCleary proved his inadvertent defensive qualities, skillfully blocking a Jake Cooper effort that seemed destined for the bottom corner.

Second Half

At the beginning of the second half, Reading finally put the ball in the net through Glenn Murray, but his strike was ruled out for offside. Not long after, Bolton had their best chance of the game - a Tim Ream header from a Bolton corner looked to have Federici beaten, the Aussie pulled of a fantastic save to keep the scores level.

Reading were looking better in the second half, and had two more chances through Michael Hector. The young centre back was unlucky to see his header go narrowly over the bar from a Jordan Obita (headers from corners going close being the theme of the day), and fired just wide from the edge of the box soon after. The home side tried to mix it up with their set pieces from then on - two successive corners were played short to Oliver Norwood, the Northern Irish international feeding Cooper and then Robson-Kanu.

The match became more open in the last section, Bolton threatening on the counter-attack several times - Pratley and Wilkinson both having efforts on goal. Although Williams forced a smart save out of Lonergan, the game fizzled out in much the same way as it had started.

It's hard to tell if either manager will be much pleased with today's result. Although both sides had odd chances, neither really did much to deserve taking all three points.

Positives

* It's the first clean-sheet for the new centre-back pairing of Michael Hector and Jake Cooper, who both excelled in last weekend's 2-1 win at Norwich. Despite the odd shaky moment from Hector towards the end of the game, the duo looked solid and comfortable on the ball. Today will be a real confidence booster going forwards.

* Today's point means this is the first time since the beginning of October that Reading have gone unbeaten two games in a row. To call this a positive is stretching it a little, but this is the kind of game that we would have lost a month or two ago. Onwards and upwards and all that...

Negatives

* When you have a striker with the goal-scoring record of Glenn Murray in the side, you need to give him better supply that what he had today. With the exception of the odd header from a corner, he was pretty anonymous throughout - through no fault of his own. The lack of spark was worrying, and resulted in us barely looking like scoring.

* Linking into Jon Keen's excellent piece on dwindling attendance figures last month, the turnout of 15,421 was pretty depressing. That's a figure we've seen on a regular basis this season, and must be a concern for the club. In the last 10-odd seasons, almost all of them have been exciting - either Premiership football or a promotion charge has been the order of business. This year has been a dull season and turnout has suffered as a result. Today's match sums that all up nicely.