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Match Reports

Trotters stunned by resilient Royals comeback

Fully deserved point earned by dominant visitors in Bolton

21 November 2017

The Royals came from two goals behind to earn a 2-2 draw with a Bolton side unbeaten in six before the game – Liam Moore and Leandro Bacuna from the spot earning the visitors a point their domination truly deserved.

  • Reece Burke heads Bolton ahead completely against the run of play
  • A buoyed Bolton score a quickfire second via a Darren Pratley header to make it 2-0
  • Moore halves the deficit by stabbing home Barrow’s low cross with a quarter of an hour left
  • Bacuna levels from the penalty spot after Barrow is tripped by Ameobi
  • Two injury time saves from Jaakkola earn the Royals a point they fully deserve

Jaap Stam made four changes to the side that started against Wolves at the weekend; Anssi Jaakkola made his first league appearance in place of Vito Mannone who missed the game due to personal reasons, while Tyler Blackett, Dave Edwards and Sone Aluko also started. World Cup winner Danny was named on the bench for the first time in the league and Liam Kelly was fit enough to return as a substitute.

Two minutes in an early scare was averted when Moore's pass back to Jaakkola ended with the Finn's clearance clattering into Gary Madine's body but thankfully the keeper bravely smothered the loose ball before Bolton could do any early damage.

As the first ten minutes played out, the hosts barely got a touch as Reading passed the ball around crisply. And Aluko nearly played a perfect ball into Beerens, but his threaded throughball was just too heavy and allowed Ben Alnwick to race off his line to gather it at the Dutchman's feet.

A passing move that began at our own corner flag with Gunter ended with a late challenge on the same man in an attacking area down the right flank - Antonee Robinson seeing yellow for the challenge but Reading wasting the free kick with a delivery too close to Alnwick.

The Royals were on top and Aluko spread the ball wide to Barrow, whose early low cross nearly found Swift sliding into the six yard box - but it fizzed just in front of him and was turned behind for a corner.

And then totally against the run of play, Bolton took the lead. Blackett conceded a foul near the byline and after John Swift had been replaced by Pelle Clement, it was floated in, flicked on and headed back across a routed Jaakkola by the head of Reece Burke.

A few niggly challenges fired the home crowd up and a combination of Moore and Blackett was needed to block n Ameobi effort. And then from a corner on the left, Darren Pratley made it 2-0 with a fine header from 12 yards out although it looked as though he had barged over his marker, Chris Gunter, before picking out the bottom right corner.

Possession was all Reading's but Bolton had a healthy lead. With ten minutes of the half remaining a lovely passing move nearly unlocked the Bolton defence. The flowing move ended with Blackett crossing low into the six yard box, but Burke was there to hack it clear and behind for a corner.

From that corner, Reading came even closer. An inswinging delivery was glanced on and Barrow could only get half a header on the ball as it fizzed off his forehead and just past the right post.

And the visitors had the ball in the back of the net a few minutes later, only for an offside flag to be raised against Beerens after Blackett had toed it into his path and he has pulled it back for Clement to slam home.

Wheater headed an Aluko cross behind at his near post to preserve his side's two-goal cushion, but Beerens' inswinging ball was headed powerfully clear as the hosts continued to dominate aerially. And yet in injury time the Royals nearly got one back with a near post Blackett header that connected with Aluko's inswinging corner but flashed frustratingly across the face of goal.

Half time | Bolton 2-0 Reading

Bacuna and Barrow nearly combined for the latter to race in on goal, but again the offside flag stopped the Royals in their tracks as they looked for an early goal back.

Gunter picked out Edwards with a left-footed cross from the right, but the midfielder couldn’t keep his header down. And Reading came even closer when Aluko arrowed an effort towards the bottom left corner only for the outstretched arm of Alnwick to push it wide.

Alnwick was in action again to push away a near post cross from Aluko as Jaap Stam’s side continued to play some incisive and attack-minded passing football in search of the breakthrough.

Bacuna drilled over from 22 yards out and Aluko looked to thread a pass into the run of Beerens on the hour, but again it had just too much on it to allow Alnwick to slide out and smother. That was to be Beerens’ last action of the game as Stam introduced Jon Dadi Bodvarsson with 25 minutes left.

Liam Kelly followed soon after as he replaced Blackett, but the Royals were running out of time to stage any sort of comeback.

Wheater stuck out a leg to cut out a low Bodvarsson cross from the right, but they could do nothing to keep out a similar ball from Barrow from the same side – Liam Moore arrived at the back post to hook the ball home from six yards out and halve the deficit.

And with eight minutes left on the clock, Reading got the chance to level. Barrow’s pace down the left side of the box was too much for Ameobi who tripped the winger and referee Andrew Madley pointed to the spot. Leandro Bacuna stepped up and sent Alnwick the wrong way. 2-2!

Bolton were clinging on. But a spark of urgency and Bolton looked for the lead again - a great Moore header took a cross off the head of Madine before Ameobi arced an effort wide.

And in four minutes of injury time a superb reaction save from Jaakkola denied Pratley a winner as he connected with a corner to head goalwards from close range – but the Finn pushed it away on his goalline.

And with the last kick of the game, Jaakkola saved brilliantly once more as Le Fondre ghosted in to connect with a last gasp cross from the left – the former Royal amazed at how the keeper was equal to his deft touch goalwards.

Honours even in an entertaining game between teams with vastly contrasting styles.

Full time | Bolton 2-2 Reading

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, Little, Wheater, Burke, Madine, Pratley (c), Henry, Vela (Le Fondre 88), Ameobi (Noone 88), Robinson, Armstrong (Buckley 81).
Subs: Howard, Cullen, Osede, Darby.
Yellow: Robinson, Madine
Goals: Burke 18, Pratley 24

Reading: Jaakkola, Gunter, Blackett (Kelly 71), McShane (c), Moore, Edwards, Bacuna, Swift (Clement 17), Barrow, Beerens (Bodvarsson 66), Aluko.
Subs: Legg, Richards, Ilori, Loader.
Goals: Moore 76, Bacuna 83 pen

Referee : Mr A Madley
Att: 13,113 (378 away)

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