Report: Reading 7-1 Bolton
Wanderers’ unbeaten start to 2014 was brought to an end as Reading ran out 7-1 winners at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In a clinical first half performance by the Royals, Adam Le Fondre notched a hat trick inside 33 minutes before Pavel Pogrebnyak converted a penalty shortly before the break.
The Royals weren’t finished however, with Kaspars Gorkss firing past Lonergan with an hour on the clock to make it five before Hope Akpan and Nick Blackman both notched in the final 15 minutes of the clash.
David Ngog did score for Wanderers in the dying minutes of the game, but his effort was merely a consolation as Reading ran out winners.
Wanderers were forced to make one change ahead of the clash, with Darren Pratley coming in for the injured Jermaine Beckford while the bench boasted the addition of Sanmi Odelusi alongside the winger’s fellow Under 21 teammate Hayden White.
Adam Bogdan also made a return to the matchday squad following his recovery from a knee injury sustained back in October, but the Hungarian had to settle for a place amongst the substitutes.
Wanderers were pushing forward from the off, with Pratley putting the Reading defence under pressure inside the opening minute of the clash.
The midfielder was in the thick of the action again just moments later after good work from Ngog down the right flank, but Pratley failed to connect with the Frenchman’s deflected cross into the area.
No sooner had Wanderers gone close however, Reading enjoyed opportunities of their own as Garath McCleary dragged his shot narrowly wide of Andy Lonergan’s upright.
Having finally found their feet in the clash, the hosts were to stun Wanderers with 13 minutes on the clock as leading goalscorer Le Fondre powered the ball into the roof of the net from a matter of yards out following good work from McCleary.
Bolton almost drew level following a superb break from Ngog, but Reading keeper Alex McCarthy did enough to deny the striker with a goal seeming imminent.
The goal had clearly buoyed the hosts, with captain Jobi McAnuff forcing Lonergan into a smart save from close range as Reading pushed in search of a second goal.
Despite finding themselves under the cosh however, Wanderers still looked a threat on the counter attack but were coming up against a staunch Royals’ backline.
After threatening since their opener to double their lead though, Reading did so in the 28th minute as Le Fondre connected with Pogrebnyak’s knock on and slotted the ball under the advancing Bolton goalkeeper.
With 12 minutes of the half remaining as McClearly capitalised on a slip from Tim Ream to break free of the Bolton defence, before unselfishly laying the ball off for Le Fondre to complete his hat trick.
With the Whites shell shocked, Neil Danns almost smashed home from close range from Chung-Yong Lee’s pass into the area which eluded the Reading defence, but the midfielder saw his shot trickle past the post.
With just five minutes to go until half time, Reading were handed the opportunity to extend their lead to four as Alex Baptiste was harshly adjudged to have handled Jordan Obita’s cross into the area, with Pogrebnyak calmly dispatching the resulting spot kick.
With a mountain to climb, Wanderers began the second period in the ascendancy as Lee headed Pratley’s cross back into the mix inside the opening minute of the half, but Mark Davies was unable to poke the ball home with the goal at his mercy.
Despite a clear drop in tempo, Le Fondre looked set to make it five after Pogrebnyak’s head down into the feet of the striker, but he failed to get his effort on target to the disbelief of those inside the Madejski.
Everything appeared to be falling for the hosts, with Danny Williams’ long range effort just one of a number of opportunities to go begging for the Royals.
On 60 minutes Gorkss slotted past Lonergan after a scramble in the Bolton penalty area to make it five.
As the clock ran down, the Royals added to their lead as Hope Akpan fired the ball into the top corner with 15 minutes remaining, while substitute Nick Blackman made it seven with a looping shot four minutes later.
Ngog did grab a goal back with three minutes remaining after connecting with Odelusi's goalbound effort to give the travelling Bolton supporters something to cheer about, but his deflected strike was scant consolation as the referee blew for full time.