Reading 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • September 16, 2023 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton threw away the chance to top the League One table, conceding twice in the final 13 minutes to lose 2-1 at Reading.

Wanderers had momentarily led the way in the divisional standings when Dion Charles' 6th goal of the season gave them a 20th-minute lead at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, but the Royals struck late through Charlie Savage and substitute Caylon Vickers to take all three points.

To compound a miserable afternoon for the visitors, Eoin Toal was sent off in added time for a second bookable offence, putting him out of next Saturday's home clash against Peterborough United.

Having made seven changes to his side for the EFL Trophy victory over Salford City, Ian Evatt reverted back to the same team that started Wanderers' last league outing - a 2-1 success over Derby County - prior to the international break.

Carlos Mendes Gomes and Paris Maghoma missed out through injury, while there was a place amongst the substitutes for B Team goalkeeper Luke Hutchinson due to the continued absence of Joel Coleman.

There was little to call in the early exchanges, with Reading enjoying the better of the possession without really finding a way through the visiting defence, who, with that said, looked a little shaky as evidenced by yellow cards for both Ricardo Almeida Santos and Toal.

Play was halted on 16 minutes when Reading supporters protested against owners of their club by throwing tennis balls on to the field of play, much like Bolton supporters did back in January 2019 in a televised clash against West Bromwich Albion - with former chief Ken Anderson subject of the protests on that occasion.

Referee Lee Swabey was given permission for play to resume two minutes later, after which the visitors took full advantage by breaking the deadlock.

Kyle Dempsey's lofted ball over the top saw Charles enter into a foot race with Tyler Bindon - one which he would win before firing across goalkeeper David Button and into the far corner for 1-0.

Bolton should have doubled their lead moments later as Dempsey's effort ricocheted into the path of Victor Adeboyejo, but his first touch was too heavy and allowed Button to make a routine save in a one-on-one situation.

Reading saw appeals for a penalty turned down on the half-hour as Dominic Ballard went to ground under a challenge from Josh Sheehan, but referee Swabey awarded a free-kick the other way and cautioned the Royals forward in the process.

Femi Azeez clipped the crossbar with Nathan Baxter beaten on 35 minutes as the hosts made their first meaningful contribution of the afternoon, but it was Bolton who were next to come close as Sheehan and Dempsey combined at a set-piece to cross for Toal, whose downward header was well stopped by Button.

The Trotters had another chance to add to their lead just before the break as Adeboyejo squared for Charles on the edge of the box, but, with a shot ready to be taken, he cut back inside and allowed a defender to clear the danger.

Despite their wastefulness in front of goal, Bolton did take a lead into the interval and were first to threaten after the restart as Santos headed over the bar from a George Thomason cross.

They came close again on 51 minutes as a teasing cross from Dempsey bounced all the way through the penalty area, with no attacking touch able to prod the ball goalwards.

Appeals for a penalty were turned down by the referee shortly before the hour as Charles went to ground under a challenge from Bindon, but Swabey awarded a free-kick the opposite way after the Wanderers forward landed on the ball with his arm.

Reading called Baxter into action for the first time on 64 minutes as Paul Mukairu's strike was parried away, but it was still Wanderers who looked most likely to grab that next goal.

Their next chance arrived nine minutes later as Gethin Jones and Adeboyejo combined on the right-hand side to tee-up Sheehan, whose square pass for Charles resulted in a shot that flashed wide of the post.

Thomason and Jerome were booked within seconds of each other with 76 minutes on the clock, much to the bemusement of both, and frustration amongst the away side grew moments later as Savage curled home via the inside of a post to level the scores at 1-1.

Bolton continued to press for a winner and saw another opportunity pass when Sheehan fired a free-kick straight into the gloves of Button, just before discontent was heard from the travelling supporters as Charles was replaced by Dan Nlundulu.

From that point on, Reading suddenly looked the most likely winners and were thwarted as Baxter saved from Azeez with six minutes remaining, but they did get that all-important goal three minutes later as substitutes Amadou Salif Mbengue and Vickers combined, with the latter squeezing a shot in at the near post.

Baxter denied Reading a third by sticking up a strong arm to stop Azeez and although seven minutes were added for stoppages, Bolton couldn't find a way back into the game.

In fact, the only talking point in those closing stages came when Toal, already on a yellow card from the first-half, was handed his marching orders for pulling down a forward as they looked set to advance into the penalty area.

Defeat - Wanderers' second in seven league outings this campaign - sees them drop five places to 7th in the League One table, with their next action coming next Saturday at home to Peterborough.

Reading: Button, Yiadom, Bindon, Abbey, Mola (McIntyre 73), Azeez, Hutchinson (Mbengue 82), Savage, Knibbs (Elliott 56), Ehibhatiomhan (Vickers 82), Ballard (Mukairu 56)
Subs Not Used: Boyce-Clarke, Dean
Booked: Ballard, Yiadom, Savage
Goals: Savage 77, Vickers 86

Bolton Wanderers: Baxter, Toal, Santos, Jones, Williams (Iredale 75), Thomason, Sheehan (Bodvarsson 89), Dacres-Cogley, Dempsey, Adeboyejo (Jerome 75), Charles (Nlundulu 82)
Subs Not Used: Hutchinson, Forrester, Morley
Booked: Santos, Toal, Williams, Thomason, Jerome
Sent Off: Toal
Goals: Charles 20

Referee: Lee Swabey
Attendance: 13,155

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Bolton Wanderers 18 39
2 Portsmouth 18 39
3 Oxford United 18 36
4 Stevenage 20 36
5 Peterborough United 19 35
View Full Standings >>


Who is Bolton's 2022/23 Player of the Year?
25.9% Conor Bradley
22.3% James Trafford
20.09% Dion Charles
10.05% Kyle Dempsey
6.82% Aaron Morley
6.45% Ricardo Almeida Santos
3.5% George Johnston
3.32% Eoin Toal
1.01% Kieran Lee
0.55% Gethin Jones