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Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Reading: Match Report

What can we learn from the frustrating draw?

Bolton Wanderers v Preston North End - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Reading supporters were once again left scratching their heads, and no doubt fuming, after another last-minute goal cost the Royals all three points. Striker Nelson Oliveria opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Garath McCleary was tripped over but, despite Jose Gomes’ team dominating possession, the Royals could not take advantage. They were made to pay when Jack Hobbs headed home to score his first goal since September 2013 in injury-time.

Gomes got his subs wrong

Jose Gomes got most of his subs wrong. I understand why he brought on McCleary and Tyler Blackett, but surely bringing on Danny Loader to close a game out surely wasn’t the right decision

The young striker has broken into the first team this season and is obviously rated by Gomes. However, the best thing to do was to bring on someone like Lewis Baker and stick Sone Aluko up front. Aluko has far more experience in terms of being in high-stake games and could have gone up front in a false nine role so that Reading could keep the ball and see the game out.

Additionally, I believe that Gomes should have brought off Barrow in the last five minutes and bought on Ovie Ejaria. If he did the Liverpool loanee would have offered more protection on the right wing as he is more defensively minded. This could have been the difference between winning and drawing.

Oliveria looks a class player

Nelson Oliveria had a fantastic debut. His ability to hold the ball up and get his teammates into play was nothing short of sensational. He showed confidence and belief in front of goal and had several other opportunities aside from his spot-kick to get on the scoresheet, even if most of his efforts went wide or were comfortably saved by Remi Matthews in the Bolton goal.

Fingers crossed the muscle injury the Portuguese suffered during the game doesn’t keep him out for long.

The result helps nobody

In game of huge magnitude, both teams were looking to get themselves out of trouble by getting a positive result. However, neither team got the result they were hoping for in order to put themselves into a better position.

On the contrary, you could argue that a draw is better for Reading as they are now just one point behind Rotherham with a superior goal difference. But with games such as Wigan (H), Ipswich (A) and Rotherham (H) to come, those three games could decide Reading’s fate with regards to relegation, and our inability to get the win against Bolton may come back to haunt us.

Same mistakes, never learn

Once again Reading lost valuable points after failing to see out a game from a winning position. Gomes’ men have now lost points from winning positions against Derby County, Brentford, Rotherham United, Blackburn Rovers, West Bromwich Albion and now Bolton.

Further insult to injury is inflicted when you then see how many points have been lost when the Royals have been level. In fact, a further five points have been thrown away when the games have been level at half-time, with Sheffield United, Middlesbrough, Birmingham City and Leeds United all snatching the three points when Reading could have gained a point.

Leeds United v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

When you take these things into account you have to wonder where Reading would be in the table if they could concentrate and grind out results. It also begs the question if Reading are going to get enough points between now and the end of the season to stay up.

Deserved criticism for Mo Barrow

Mo Barrow arguably had one of his worse performances in a Reading shirt to date. The Gambian international frustrated the fans due to his poor decision making and lack of end product.

In fact, according to WhoScored, Barrow had the worse passing accuracy of any outfield player that started the match - 76% to be precise. This resulted in the former Swansea player giving the ball away far too cheaply and giving Bolton the chance to counter-attack. The winger also failed to beat his man and only produced one accurate cross throughout the game, meaning Nelson Oliveria had little service to feed off.

This is the same player that has played Premier League football, but for me he is not doing enough to help his team’s cause. There is rumoured interest from Hull City and Turkish club Bursaspor for Barrow, and if one of those clubs offer decent money the Royals should take it and run to the bank.

Closing thoughts

To sum up, the result was a poor one and more work is needed. If Reading are to get the points they need to stay up (How many times have we said that this season). However, there were positive signs such as Nelson Oliveria’s performance and Emilio Martinez composed first start in goal.

As TTE editor Simeon Pickup said in his Derby away match report, getting points on the board is the crucial thing. They have to translate promising performances (whether over 45 minutes or the full 90) into actual wins and stop dropping points through lapses in concentration.

With 16 games left in the campaign, Reading have to grind out results and get the points required to avoid relegation.