Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Reading

  • April 02, 2016 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's fate could finally be sealed on Tuesday, after a 1-0 defeat at home to Reading left them on the brink of relegation to League One.

Wanderers entered the game looking for a response to a humiliating 6-0 defeat at Bristol City before the international break, but were forced to re-evaluate their plans just 22 minutes in as Rob Holding was shown a red card for a professional foul on Matej Vydra which resulted in the Royals being awarded a penalty.

Ben Amos, back after over a month out injured, saved the resulting spot-kick, and was comfortably the Trotters' Man of the Match, denying a constant onslaught of opposition pressure, only to be beaten in the final minute of normal time as a long-range strike from substitute Ola John flashed into the corner.

Interim manager Jimmy Phillips made four changes to the side that lost at Ashton Gate a fortnight ago, with Paul Rachubka and Mark Davies dropping to the bench, while Tom Walker and Gary Madine missed out entirely.

Amos came back in for Rachubka and Niall Maher was handed a senior debut, while there were also recalls for both Stephen Dobbie and Zach Clough. There was a new name amongst the substitutes, too, with Alex Samizadeh drafted in for his first experience at Championship level.

The visitors began brightly and should have been ahead inside the opening 15 minutes, but Vydra somehow succeeded in heading over the crossbar from six yards when found unopposed from a corner.

After a slow start from both sides, the game changed with one blow of the referee's whistle as the Royals were awarded a penalty with little over 20 minutes played. Vydra broke free of the Wanderers defence and was brought down by Holding, prompting referee Geoff Eltringham to point to the spot and ultimately dismiss the defender.

Vydra picked himself up to take the resulting spot-kick, but his staggered run lacked conviction and his tame strike was comfortably saved by Amos, who gathered the loose ball at the second attempt.

With Bolton left to play 68 minutes with 10 men, a tactical shuffle saw Derik Osede drop from midfield to right-back, leaving Josh Vela occupying a solitary defensive midfield position.

The hosts were then forced into another alteration, as Dobbie was forced off following a collision with Yann Kermorgant, who was subsequently booked for his challenge as he competed to win the ball from a corner.

Wanderers were made to wait before completing a substitution, meaning they had to continue temporarily with nine men, and anything but a perfectly-timed challenge from Osede would have seen that number fall to eight as he slid in to deny Vydra a clear run on goal.

Liam Trotter completed his warm-up and joined the action in Dobbie's place on the half-hour, as Phillips' side looked to get any sort of foothold in the game.

Osede was the hero again moments later, this time making the block to deny Jordan Obita in a one-on-one situation, before Amos stood tall to deflect a goalbound strike from Vydra behind after he broke clear from the next attack, ensuring the teams went in goalless at the break.

There were no changes to either side at the start of the second period, which began with Clough shooting straight into the arms of Ali Al Habsi after Kaiyne Woolery had worked tirelessly to reclaim possession from the Reading defence.

The visitors should have taken the lead on the hour, but Kermorgant was guilty of wasting an opportunity as he headed wide from close range, while Clough brought Al Habsi into a low stop once again as Wanderers worked their way up to the other end of the field.

Amos then began his one-man crusade against the Reading attack, first keeping out a thunderous shot from Williams, then rising to his feet to deny an offside Stephen Quinn.

Woolery's afternoon came to an end midway through the half, after attempts to stretch out what appeared to be a hamstring injury proved fruitless. Neil Danns came on in his place, allowing Clough to move into a central role and shifting Vela out to the right-hand side of midfield.

With the ball back in play, Oliver Norwood came close to breaking the deadlock as his long-range effort whistled past Amos' post, before Simon Cox headed straight at the goalkeeper after Kermorgant's cross-cum-shot had looped up kindly for the Royals forward.

Amos was beaten with 10 minutes remaining, only to find David Wheater tracking in behind to clear an Ola John shot off the line, and the big defender was alive to the danger again moments later to guide the ball to safety after Amos had fumbled a header from Paul McShane.

That elusive goal was getting closer and closer as the clock ticked down, with Quinn next to curse his luck after a shot from 30 yards crashed back off the post, moments before Obita drilled inches wide.

Wanderers' resistance was broken in the final minute of normal time, though, as John was afforded too much time and space on the left-flank. He composed himself before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the corner of Amos' net, sparking frantic scenes in the away end and bringing an end to the home side's hopes of claiming an unlikely point.

Defeat for Bolton, combined with wins for both Fulham and Rotherham United, means a loss at Brentford on Tuesday and results elsewhere going against them could confirm relegation.

Bolton Wanderers: Amos, Maher, Holding, Wheater, Moxey, Vela, Osede, Dobbie (Trotter 30), Pratley, Clough (Heskey 89), Woolery (Danns 68)
Subs Not Used: Rachubka, Davies, Wilson, Samizadeh
Booked: Pratley
Sent Off: Holding

Reading: Al Habsi, Gunter, McShane, Cooper, Obita, Williams, Norwood, Piazon (John 61), Vydra (Cox 71), Quinn, Kermorgant
Subs Not Used: Bond, A Taylor, Evans, Ferdinand, Fernandez
Booked: Kermorgant, Gunter, Quinn, John
Goals: John 90

Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Attendance: 13,469

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
13 Accrington Stanley 27 36
14 Charlton Athletic 27 33
15 Bolton Wanderers 26 32
16 Lincoln City 26 31
17 Cheltenham Town 27 31
View Full Standings >>


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