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21:20 8th April 2014

Royals beaten by Cherries

AFC Bournemouth 3 (Ritchie 7, 19, Kermorgant 44) 
Reading 1 (Robson-Kanu 74)

Reading were beaten 3-1 by play-off rivals Bournemouth as the race for the top six took another twist. 

We lost Danny Williams before the game through injury, and Danny Guthrie in the warm-up, but make no mistake Bournemouth were the better side on the night and inflicted our first away defeat since January. 

Matt Ritchie scored two good goals early on, and then Yann Kermorgant notched a third right on half time to give us a mountain to climb. 

Hal Robson-Kanu scored a stunner late on to give us hope, but we couldn't find another way through. 

On the plus side, Wayne Bridge played 60 minutes and Mikele Leigertwood got half an hour after a year out 

It was a disappointing night - but there are bound to be more twists before the season is out. 

AFC Bournemouth: Camp; Francis, Harte, Cook, Elphick (c), Surman, O'Kane, Ritchie, Pugh (Fraser 73), Kermorgant, Grabban (Pitman 85) 
Subs: Allsop, Smith, Ward, MacDonald, Rantie 
Booked: Fraser (foul 80) 

Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Bridge (Kelly 60), Gorkss, Pearce; McAnuff (c), Obita, Drenthe (Blackman 74), Robson-Kanu; Le Fondre (Leigertwood 60), Pogrebnyak 
Subs: Federici, Morrison, J Taylor, McCleary 
Booked: Obita (foul 83) 

Attendance: 11,182 (1,390 away) 

Starting XI team news
Reading were without the injured Danny Williams, and then lost Danny Guthrie in the warm-up as well, so Jobi McAnuff and Jordan Obita were in central midfield. Wayne Bridge was back after five months out, and there was more good news with Mikele Leigertwood back on the bench after a year sidelined. 

First half
It was Reading who had the first shot when Jordan Obita forced Lee Camp into a good save, and Adam Le Fondre was also sniffing inside the first few minutes. 

So it was something of a surprise when the home side took the lead, Lewis Grabban breaking well and supplying Matt Ritchie for the opener. 

The Cherries then turned the screw even further as the same pair combined, to be fair Grabban should have passed to a teammate earlier but it was worked to Ritchie who passed home a well-taken finish. 

Robson-Kanu almost supplied Pavel Pogrebnyak with a chance at the edge of the box, but it was Bournemouth in the ascendancy and Alex McCarthy had to make an important save from a powerful header just past the half hour. 

And Grabban really should have scored five minutes later when he was played in by a one-two on the halfway line, but he turned his shot wide with only the keeper to beat. 

But before half time Bournemouth did have a third, Simon Francis outmuscling Wayne Bridge to put in a thunderous cross that Kermorgant headed home from close range. 

Second half
The game was tighter after the break, but it was Bournemouth who were closest to scoring again before the hour mark, Grabban shooting not from over from the edge of the box. 

Then with half an hour to go, there was a welcome return for Leigertwood in the middle of the park. With Guthrie, Williams, Hope Akpan and Jem Karacan injured, it was good to see him back. 

There was little tempo to the game but Grabban continued to be a threat and shot wide on the angle with 20 minutes to go. 

Suddenly, with 15 minutes to go Reading had a lifeline in fine style. Alex Pearce won the ball in midfield, found Pogrebnyak and then Robson-Kanu smashed home a brilliant goal from 20 yards. 

We had more possession in the closing stages, but the grandstand finish never really came and Bournemouth took a deserved three points.