Falling at the Final Hurdle
Date: Wednesday 16th May 2007A disappointingly flat end to the season from the reserves saw them comfortably beaten by a bigger, stronger Reading team who can now claim mastery over all players at Premier League clubs who aren't good enough to play in the Premier League. From the start Reading looked the stronger team, and Wanderers struggled to cope with their more physical, direct approach. Indeed, it was striking how small the Wanderers team were – front man Wolze looked to be about twelve years old, and the right back who replaced new first-teamer James Sinclair, Gbemie, seemed about four-foot-nothing. Reading had the better of the early opportunities, and should have scored in the 25th minute, when a mix up at the back allowed the striker through, but he coudn't keep his shot on target. They did take the lead a few minutes later, however, when a corner was swung in, and Alan Bennett out jumped everyone to head the ball in. With our only three large players, Fojut, Augsustyn and Al Habsi all being defensively inclined, it was disappointing that no one could put in a better challenge against the twee Yorkshire playwright who must be in his seventies by now. Wanderers created very little - Matt Cassidy played relatively well in the first half, winning possession and looking for the short pass - but rarely threatened, their crosses being far too wayward and inaccurate. Their best first half chance came from a free-kick after about forty minutes, which the Reading 'keeper did well to get down to parry, and then again to block the shot which came in from the rebound. The second half started off equally poorly, when, after two minutes, another inswinging corner was met by the head of Reading's Alex Pearce, who doubled their lead. Wanderers immediately threw on two substitutes, Leslie Thompson replacing the lanky Nicky Hunt-esque Chris Basham, who had run around a lot to no great effect, and Brookes replacing Nathan Wolfe, who had been largely anonymous. Ten minutes later, and Sam "Nephew Of John" Sheriden came on, replacing Wolze. Thompson had the best of Wanderers' second-half chances, after an hour, when he was played through, by a lovely ball from midfield. Bearing down on goal, with only the 'keeper to beat, he chose not to shoot, but to dribble straight into the goalie's arms, and the chance was lost. Five minutes later, and Reading looked to have a strong penalty claim, after their striker appeared to be bundled over in the area, but the referee was uninterested. Shortly after, Al Habsi made a couple of good reflex-saves, to keep the score at a not-too-embarrassing level. The game petered out after that, until the 89th minute when Thompson again had a good chance in the area, but slipped when trying to shoot. And that was it. A fairly unimpressive performance, and a deserved defeat. No players really stood out - Augustyn was probably the best, and the only one who, on that performance, looks likely to make the grade. Cassidy had a good first half, but faded in the second, and left-back Jamieson was busy, but needs to improve his crossing. Biggest disappointment was Al Habsi - for such a large goalkeeper, he seems rooted to his goal line, rarely, if ever coming out to claim crosses, and that was amongst the factors that left us vulnerable to the inswinging corners. The other factor was the crowd - loads of kids and families, taking advantage of the £1 entrance fee for children. Why don't the Wanderers reserves play at the Reebok, instead of out in the backwaters of Lancashire? It would surely make them feel more a part of the club, and help get them used to it, and, I suspect, more people would go. Just a thought. Teams: Bolton: Al-Habsi, Gbemie, Jamieson, Cassidy, Augustyn, Fojut, Basham (Thompson), Sissons, Obadeyi, Wolze (Sheridan), Woolfe (Brooks). Subs Not Used: Ellis, Kazimierczak Reading: Federici, Halls, Kelly, Osano (Sigurdsson) , Bennett, Pearce, Henry, Davies, Cox, Robson-Kanu, Bozanic. Subs Not Used: Cox, Andersen, Hateley, Spence.