A travelling away contingent of over 800 fans saw Bolton maintain their unbeaten start to the 2018/19 Championship campaign with an impressive 1-0 victory over Neil Clement’s Reading side at the Madejski Stadium. The only goal of the game came just three minutes in to the second half after Yanic Wildschut, a half time replacement for the injured Will Buckley, latched on to a delightful flicked pass by Craig Noone, calmly slotting the ball past the on rushing Reading keeper, Vito Mannone.
Following up their unlikely win against West Brom on the opening day of the season, the win gives Bolton back to back away victories for the first time since March 2017 in the league. Add to this the 2-2 home draw with Bristol City, Bolton have taken 7 points from their opening 3 games with Phil Parkinson’s men standing a lofty fifth in the table.
It was the first time Bolton have beaten Reading outside the top flight since October 1996, a game in which Wanderers’ boss Phil Parkinson featured for the Royals.
In contrast, Reading have now lost their opening 3 league games for the first time since the 1959-60 season. After earlier league defeats to Derby and Forest, Paul Clement is under real pressure and now faces a tricky midweek away trip to Blackburn Rovers.
Despite an industrious Carabao Cup display at Leeds in midweek, Parky made 10 changes to keep faith in the Wanderers side that drew against Bristol City and it was Bolton who started the stronger with some intricate approach play, but failed to create any clear cut chances.
The first real chance of the game fell to Reading on 9 minutes as John Swift powered in a 20-yard free-kick but Ben Alnwick in the Wanderers’ goal, made a superb save to palm the ball away with Andy Taylor following up to clear. That seemed to inspire Reading and they began to create some decent chances with Mark McNulty’s goal bound effort blocked, Sam Baldock shot firing in high over the crossbar, after picking up a loose ball on the edge of the area and Yakou Meite driving weakly at Alnwick when he should have done better.
Meite had a better chance moments later after a mistake from Mark Beevers allowed him to race through on goal, but David Wheater was to the rescue with a superb last-ditch tackle to clear the danger.
Despite Reading’s efforts, Bolton’s defence rarely looked challenged and were comfortable in soaking up the pressure. 30 minutes in and some fantastic hold up play by Super Josh Magennis created a good chance releasing Will Buckley, but with only Mannone to beat, he shot tamely at the Italian.
Reading responded with an effort of their own, as Baldock shrugged off Andy Taylor’s challenge but his strike was saved expertly by Alnwick.
Heading into the break, Bolton started to take a foot hold in the game. Josh Magennis nicked the ball away from John Swift, broke away through the middle and fired in a shot that was saved by Mannone. The first half was comfortable, with Bolton having started well and gone into the interval on top, our defence had soaked up the pressure and Reading looked devoid of ideas going forward. If we could nick a goal, the 3 points would be there for the taking.
And so it proved. At half time, Parkinson brought on Yanic for Buckley and he was rewarded within three minutes of the restart. A sublime flick from Craig Noone slotted the ball through and Wildschut ran on to it before calming placing the ball under the diving Mannone for his second goal of the season.
Reading tried to respond but Alnwick was rarely tested, with Baldock and Swift both off target with poor efforts. Swift also engineered a chance for himself, when cutting in to the by-line, but he was eventually crowded out and the danger was cleared.
Going into the last ten minutes, chances were few and far between for both sides; Yanic fired a decent shot wide and for some reason Paul Clement decided to take off their most effective player in John Swift, as they gradually ran out of ideas
Encouragingly, Bolton held on comfortably for the win. It was an impressive display and a game we were able to manage well with a real team effort. Reading looked toothless and lacked any real threat up front and I think they are going to struggle this season unless they can bring someone in before the loan window closes. We stuck to the game plan and got our rewards with a brilliant goal. It’s an impressive start to the season and with two home games coming up this week against Birmingham and Sheffield United, a double figure points tally after 5 games would be a real achievement for Parky’s new look side.
After the game Paul Clement was bitter, but big Phil was delighted,
‘I’m absolutely delighted with that. It was a hard game and we had to push ourselves to get the result. It was so important we backed up that West Brom result away from home and we had to work hard for it,” Parkinson said.
“It was a humid, sticky day and the lads have really pushed themselves to get something from it. I think Reading are a better team than their league position suggests.
“But it’s a moment of real quality from Yanic and Noone which has won the game. Yanic got better as the game got on against Leeds and he has grown into doing what we want him to do. That was a cool finish and it’s two from two for him – and match-winning goals as well.”
“Our aim was to be in the top six getting back on that coach. Even with three games gone that is a massive psychological boost. We’ve done it – we’ll take a deep breath, and now pick a team which can build on it.”
Fantastic result lads, bring on the Brummies.