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5 Things: Reading FC 0-0 Bolton Wanderers

So what did we learn from Reading's instantly forgettable encounter with the Trotters? @WilliamOwain provides his analysis on the goalless draw at the weekend.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

1) At least the defence is improving

In the nine games from Millwall at home to Blackburn away, Reading conceded 18 goals, got just two clean sheets, and conceded seven goals from set pieces. We all knew where the team needed to improve: defence!

Since that unfruitful trip to Ewood Park, the Royals have only conceded four times in five games, and Alex Pearce's own goal against Cardiff is the only one conceded from a set play. Reading were also the first team to stop Bolton scoring under Neil Lennon.

The defence still looks a little shaky, but that is to be expected with the "league's youngest centre back partnership". But credit where credit's due, Reading are looking better defensively. That is something to build on.

2) Was Robson-Kanu really that bad?

There's no doubt which Royal received the most criticism on Saturday. The substitution of Hal Robson-Kanu was met by a few boos and a loud cheer for the oncoming Simon Cox. Now I'm not going to try and claim that Robson-Kanu has been anything but disappointing since we were relegated from the Premier League, especially when you consider his excellent performances for Wales (keep up the good work on that front Hal!).

But he was far from our worst player against Bolton. He had more touches per minute than Glenn Murray, took more players on than Garath McCleary, forced Andy Lonergan into a fine save, and had a header cleared off the line. He also put in one of our better crosses from open play in the first half.

His record of no assists and goals this season isn't good enough, and is the main reason why he came under criticism. However, in the context of this game, he was possibly the best of a bad bunch of attacking players.

3) Kelly's experience could be vital

I've never really rated Stephen Kelly. He's a decent defender but no more, and for a player who's played so much of his career in the Premier League, his attacking play is disappointing. For the first hour he did little to prove me wrong, including one embarrassing moment in the first half when he miscontrolled the ball to end a promising attack.

But in the final half hour he was our best player. He twice brilliantly saved Michael Hector's over-exuberance with superb defensive work. This seemed to give him confidence and he finished the game being uncharacteristically positive.

If he can play more like he did in the final third of the match, then Kelly could become a key player for Nigel Adkins. His experience can only help Hector and Jake Cooper, and there's no doubt that defensively he's the best full back at the club.

4) Another disappointing FA Cup draw

The FA Cup third round draw is one of the most highly anticipated events in the football calendar. Yesterday's draw was also possibly the most important one for Reading in a long time. In a season going nowhere, a decent FA Cup campaign would provide much needed momentum, purpose, and most importantly, some excitement for fans.

What we ended up with summed up the season so far: boring mid-table Championship football. The only positive is that drawing Huddersfield does give the Royals a chance of progression. But the Terriers will be saying the same about us. You might want to take the FA Cup seriously this year Nigel!

5) Clutching at straws

The last time there were so many boring games in a Reading season was 2004/2005. The Reading Post even believe that three of them were worse than this weekend's bore fest. At the end of that season eight players were let go and ten players came in. We all know what happened next.

This coming summer could see the highest turnover of players at the club since that history changing summer. That's something to put hopes on. There's also the improving defence and the numerous promising players coming through from the academy. Still don't think there's something to look forward to? Well Christmas is just round the corner.