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Reading FC 1-1 AFC Bournemouth: Pre-Season Friendly Match Report

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With just over a week to go until the Championship opener against Preston, Reading welcomed Premier League opponents Bournemouth to Berkshire for a fifth and final pre-season friendly of the summer.

Credit: Marc Mayo

In Reading's final friendly of pre-season, we got to see Jaap Stam and his squad at the Madejski Stadium for the first time as they played out a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth.

Three new signings - Joey van den Berg, Roy Beerens and John Swift - all featured in the starting line-up as Chris Gunter returned following his Euros heroics with Wales. The injured Yann Kermorgant and Garath McCleary were not included in the squad, whilst new signings Joseph Mendes, Yakou Meite as well as Stephen Quinn were absent too.

First Half

Reading actually started the brighter of the two sides, pressing high and moving the ball around quickly. Indeed, the first major chance of the game came for John Swift, playing on the left of the front three. Cutting in from the wing, he produced some neat footwork before hitting a well struck effort which forced Boruc into a good save.

But from there on in, Bournemouth grew into the game and began to open Reading up much more and find space more easily. Their first opportunity came when Josh King broke through on the edge of the box, and despite having Max Gradel as an option to his right, smashed an attempt over the bar. Dan Gosling was next to come close and probably should have scored as he first had a shot saved by Ali Al-Habsi before hitting the post when the ball came back to him.

Reading then had two half chances as Danny Williams played Deniss Rakels in but the Latvian couldn't hang on to the ball. Swift then found himself in space before showing he has been learning off Williams in training by blazing an attempt way over the bar.

With eight minutes to go in the half, the visitors finally broke the deadlock and made the huge amount of space Reading gave them count. A ball from the Bournemouth backline found its way through both the Reading midfield and defence far too easily - 'like a knife through butter' to use an old cliche - and new Cherries signing Lewis Cook stayed calm to comfortably slot past Ali Al-Habsi.

Second Half

The only change made by either side at the break was Stam's decision to replace Roy Beerens with Craig Tanner on the right wing. The youngster's first contribution came just a couple of minutes into the second half as his cross found Swift who calmly controlled the ball surprisingly unmarked before poking the ball into the back of the net to equalise and score his first Royals goal on his home debut.

The game then began to fizzle out far too early on, with neither side seeming desperate to win (it's only a friendly after all). Dan Gosling was next in a long line of players to smash the ball over the bar from 30 yards out, and Danny Williams had a tamer effort blocked but neither could create any significant chance until the 80th minute when Ali Al-Habsi made an excellent save from Max Gradel's free-kick.

Only two more substitutions were made in the half by Reading as Tennai Watson and Liam Kelly replaced Chris Gunter and Oliver Norwood respectively, the two youngsters making their Madejski Stadium first team debuts.

Concluding Thoughts

This game was much like the other pre-season friendlies in that it was just all about the team getting used to Jaap Stam's philosophy and tactics. It may not have been a full strength Bournemouth side, but it was still the toughest test they have faced under Stam and a similar level to the teams at the top of the Championship we'll play this season.

I was impressed by the three new signings we saw, especially goalscorer John Swift, and they certainly fit in with the free flowing attacking football that it's clear we will be aiming to play this season. Unfortunately we couldn't quite break down the Cherries enough, but there were promising signs there.

My main worry would be the amount of space that seemed to be available to our opponents, especially between the defence and midfield. On too many occasions the Bournemouth players were given time (despite Danny Williams' impressive closing down), and that's how their goal came about as there seemed to be not a defender in sight as Cook scored.

It was interesting that Stam only made three substitutions in the game, which could certainly be a decision based on the fact competitive football is just a week away. Deniss Rakels was the only recognised centre forward in the squad, and even he isn't natural there, so there are slight question marks over whether we will be able to score enough goals.

Not the most entertaining evening, but certainly some encouraging signs to take from the 1-1 draw.