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5 Things: Bournemouth v Reading

A poor performance on the south coast saw the Royals drop to a 3-1 defeat at rising Bournemouth. Bucks Royal brings us his '5 Things' from the game.

Ben Hoskins

1. Central midfield woes...

Once again, a lack of established players in the centre of midfield was a major contribution to a poor Reading performance. Several weeks ago at the Madejski, the combination of Hope Akpan and Jobi McAnuff simply wasn't good enough, and Tuesday night's pairing of the latter with Jordan Obita similarly failed to convince. In stark contrast, Saturday's performances from Danny Guthrie and Danny Williams gave the Royals confidence on the ball and the ability to start (and finish) well-built attacks through the middle, whilst having a good control of the game in general. The performances on Tuesday were obviously sub-par, particularly from skipper Jobi McAnuff, but the fact remains that, when injuries hit the Royals' midfield, they hit hard. Which brings me to...

2. The injury list takes with one hand... and gives with the other...

Earlier in the day, things had been looking much better for the Royals on the injury front, although we would later see a starting line-up devoid of both Dannys in the midfield. That said, Tuesday's match saw the return of two vastly experienced players who could still play an important role in the rest of Reading's season. Wayne Bridge gave a decent account of himself at left-back considering the fact that he hasn't played in months, and it was very nice to see Mikele Leigertwood pull on the hoops once more for the Royals, himself a key cog in the promotion-winning season two years ago. Nonetheless, the injury story has a wildly stop-start one so far this term, with arguably only the goalkeeping position being unaffected enough to grow throughout the season. Other positions however - particularly central midfield, full back and out wide have been regularly hit by injuries, and it's clearly been a major factor in the (arguable/probable) lack of success this season.

3. Time to drop Kaspars?

Having gone to the last two games, one thing struck me from both - I'm terrified whenever Kaspars Gorkss is on the ball. His passion is, for me at least, not in doubt, but he looks so uncomfortable with the ball at his feet that, on Tuesday, it actively became a defensive liability that Bournemouth were regularly looking to exploit. It's clear that he's lost the assuredness of two seasons ago (despite his run of form earlier this season) and, at the least, needs to be dropped in the short term to return order to the back four. With players like Sean Morrison and Michael Hector waiting in the wings, Adkins owes it to them to give one of them the chance that they deserve in the first team. As for Gorkss, with his contract up in the summer, it's looking unlikely that he'll be here next season.

4. New favourites for the playoffs?

Full credit to Tuesday's opposition - they played very well and fully deserved all three points. However, looking beyond that night, it seems very much like they could be the team that successfully puts together a last-minute play-off charge. Of late, the Cherries have beaten Queens Park Rangers at Dean Court, put four past Birmingham and Leeds, and have only lost one in their last ten. To his credit, Eddie Howe is putting together a good footballing unit with quality players, such as the likes of Lewis Grabban, Matt Ritchie, Yann Kermogant and January addition Lee Camp. With teams like QPR, Derby and ourselves not hitting top gear, we could see a shock name on the last ticket to the Promised Land in May.

5. Brighton do us a favour...

It's been well-documented in recent weeks that Leicester's promotion-winning season had put them in with a good chance of topping our oft-chanted points record of 106 in 2005/06. Luckily however, the Seagulls dashed the Foxes' hopes on Tuesday night with a surprise 4-1 win at the King Power Stadium. Leicester City are our next opposition, visiting the Madejski next Monday night, and I thoroughly expect the obvious chant to sung much more than usual. However, to their credit, Foxes fans were very well-natured when it was us winning promotion, so hopefully the friendly spirit will be returned.