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Bolton Wanderers vs Reading: Match Preview

Can the Royals drag themselves out of the bottom three with a win?

Bristol City v Bolton Wanderers - FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

After having a free weekend due to their FA Cup exit in the third round, Reading return to action in midweek to face fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers. A cold Tuesday night in Greater Manchester could be vital in the Championship relegation battle.

Reading legend Phil Parkinson will be hoping to pile more misery on the Royals as Wanderers look to get themselves out of trouble. However, with events off the pitch involving their chairman, Ken Anderson, that is easier said than done.


The last five (league games)

Bolton Wanderers: WDLLL

Yanic Wildschut continues his recovery from a long-term ankle injury. The winger has undergone an operation as he follows a programme to get himself back to fitness. On-loan Everton player Joe Williams has missed the past couple of matches due to a thigh injury; it is not yet clear when he will return for the Trotters.

A New Year’s Day thumping by Nigel Adkins’ Hull City has not helped their cause, as they have failed to pick up a point in their first three games of 2019, scoring only one goal in the process. They will need to start getting wins if they are to stay in the second tier.

Reading: LDLWL

According to his social media, Saeid Ezatolahi is a few weeks away from returning to “footballing activities”; hopefully this does not include training and he’s back on the pitch itself in three weeks! Nelson Oliveira, Emiliano Martinez and Matt Miazga have joined the club since the last fixture against Derby County, and all three could make their debut in this crunch tie.

The other two loanees who have joined in the January transfer window, Ovie Ejaria and Lewis Baker, both started against Derby. However, Baker was replaced by Sone Aluko at half-time. The Royals are only allowed to have five loanees in their squad, so it will be interesting to see where Ezatolahi fits in when he returns.

Sam Baldock is ruled out of Tuesday’s tie, while Paul McShane has returned to training. Ejaria and Richards have both picked up minor injuries so many not feature.

Despite performances under Jose Gomes being promising, the Royals have only picked up four points from a possible 20 during his time in charge. Unfortunately, this is relegation form, and Reading will need to start producing results that match their solid displays.


Previous meetings

18/8/2018: Reading 0-1 Bolton Wanderers

6/3/2018: Reading 1-1 Bolton Wanderers

21/11/2017: Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Reading

2/4/2016: Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Reading

21/11/2015: Reading 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

Not so long ago, Reading beat Bolton 7-1 in the 2013/14 season on their way to a seventh-place finish. Now, both teams are in a Championship relegation dogfight. Reading suffered a miserable 1-0 home defeat to the Trotters at the start of this season, and will be vying for redemption in this crucial Tuesday night Championship fixture.

Tom Holmes made his debut in the March 2018 fixture alongside Liam Moore in central defence. Adam Le Fondre’s finish from close-range just before half-time cancelled out Mo Barrow’s solo effort that March night.

Other recent memorable moments between the two sides include Ola John’s fine last-minute strike in April 2016 under Brian McDermott to gain all three points. Reading’s fightback in November 2017 was one of the few highlights of the 2017/18 season, and this campaign is proving to be even more torrid.


Quick-fire stats

  • Reading are 12 goals better off in terms of goal difference with -12 compared to the Trotters’ -24. This could be crucial in the run-up to the end of the season.
  • Both defences have been poor this season, with Reading and Bolton Wanderers conceding 43 and 42 goals respectively.
  • Only one point separates these two relegation-threatened sides.
  • The home team has the worst attacking record in the league this season, only scoring 18 goals in 28 league games.

Prediction

This is a huge, huge game for both sides. Reading may have a slight advantage in the fact that they have not had to play at the weekend. Bolton have quite a poor attacking record as mentioned, and I feel that the Royals may be able to capitalise on this with a slim win this Tuesday. Therefore, I am predicting a narrow 1-0 victory for the away side!

Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Reading