Reading: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Obita, Chalobah (Appiah 67), Karacan (Williams 57), Ake, McCleary, Mackie, Robson-Kanu (Yakubu 81)
League leaders Bournemouth were the visitors at the Madejski last night and took all three points in 1-0 win on an evening where Reading were on top.
A Callum Wilson four minute goal meant that Bournemouth stay top of the Championship and Reading stay in 18th, eight points ahead of Millwall in 22nd.
Steve Clarke surprisingly only made one change from our goal-less draw on Saturday against Blackburn with Jordan Obita returning. Pavel Pogrebnyak had a slight knock so missed out, but should return for Saturday at Wembley.
The Royals, like many times this season, started slowly and it was quite clear from the kick off that one team were up for it more than the other as kick-off had to be retaken three times with Bournemouth players stepping over the line, visibly eager to get on with the game!
It was no shock that four minutes later, the visitors took the lead. It was good play from the Cherries with Andrew Surman hitting the post from just outside the box, and as it was not cleared by the Royals defenders Wilson scored his 22nd goal of the season.
It was mid-way through the first half before Reading had an attempt on goal. A great save from Artur Boruc denied a Jamie Mackie volley to keep Bournemouth in the game. The hosts were then on top until half time, with half chances from Hal Robson-Kanu and Obita, but both fired high and wide.
It did seem last night that the Royals weren't too keen to put in too many challenges, it was quite clear to me that the players had their mind focused on Saturday. Fair enough, I suppose, but a few more challenges could have maybe seen us get in some better positions with the possibly of getting the equaliser.
Early on, Matt Richie had a fantastic chance to make it 2-0 to the visitors with a fantastic curling shot which went just wide from the corner of the penalty box. Yet again, however, the story of our season began to tell as we got into some really good positions but couldn't pull off a decent effort, or actually shoot at all. Half chances came again from Jamie Mackie and Robson-Kanu, but were either blocked or well wide of the target. Like Saturday, we were on top during the game, and should have come out with at least a point.
Michael Hector had a nervy moment in the second half, after already being booked earlier on in the half, he clattered into Wilson, who looked as though he’d made the most of the challenge. Bournemouth players surrounded the referee, another yellow for Hector would have meant he would have not been available for Wembley on Saturday. He escaped further punishment, but Alex Pearce did receive a booking for the proceeding scuffle.
The final 10 minutes saw the host apply a lot of pressure onto the visitors to find the equaliser, but with three points critical for Bournemouth every man was behind the ball and there was no way for the Royals to get through.