Opposition watch: Reading

The low-down on Saturday's opponents from the Madejski Stadium

A fixture which has been a rarity in recent years, Wanderers will be hoping to replicate their efforts on their last trip to Berkshire almost six years ago when they come head to head with Reading this weekend.

With Kevin Nolan and Heidar Helguson earning the Whites a convincing 2-0 victory over the Royals in February 2008, Reading’s relegation in the same season ensured that the two sides would not meet again until five months ago in Bolton’s first home game of the campaign.

Despite Wanderers taking the lead that day, Nick Blackman’s penalty shortly after half time cancelled out Darren Pratley’s early strike to ensure that the points were shared at the Reebok.

A first away point of the season for the Berkshire outfit, Nigel Adkins’ side have certainly looked likely to challenge for a promotion push this term following a steady start to life back in the Championship after just one season in the Premier League.

Currently residing in seventh and a point shy of the play-off positions, the Royals slipped out of the top flight back in May after an ill-fated campaign which saw them finish 11 points short of safety and the departure of manager Brian McDermott after three years in the Madejski hot seat.

With the installation of Adkins at the helm however, the Berkshire outfit have enjoyed a solid start to the season, securing ten league victories so far including impressive away wins at Nottingham Forest, Derby County and most recently Watford.

The team’s inconsistency however has been a problem, with the Royals coming into this weekend’s clash having won just one of their last six games over the Christmas period.

Despite their drop in form of late, their performances at the Madejski Stadium have been solid with just two defeats suffered there since the start of August – reverses which have come in the past month against Wigan Athletic and Bournemouth.

Alongside just a handful of losses, just 12 goals have been conceded in as many games on home soil with four clean sheets to their name in front of their own supporters so far.

With Wanderers coming into the game unbeaten in the calendar year and looking for their fifth win of the season on their travels however, Saturday’s clash looks set to be an exciting one as both sides go all out for victory.

Anthony Smith – Sports Editor at the Reading Chronicle

“Any Reading fan who can remember the pre-Madejski Stadium days associates Bolton Wanderers with only one thing - Wembley heartache.

“It’s nearly 20 years since the Royals plucked heart-breaking defeat from the jaws of historic victory in that 1995 Division One play-off final.

“But if the Trotters won the day on that occasion, both clubs have since enjoyed spells in the top-flight.

“Reading dropped out of the Premier League last season and are in with a chance of going straight back up.

“Nigel Adkins’ men have rarely looked convincing, but remain just outside the play-offs despite taking one point from 12 over Christmas and New Year followed by a swift FA Cup exit at Brighton.

“Admittedly, Royals have been plagued by injuries to key players including Wayne Bridge, Jason Roberts, Jem Karacan and now Danny Guthrie so Adkins has rarely had a settled side to pick from.

“And while some Reading fans have been quick to criticise their team’s performances, they are not in bad shape and I’m sure Trotters supporters would swap places right now.

“The biggest challenge facing Reading is finding a swift resolution to the takeover saga before the end of the January so that Adkins can recruit reinforcements.

“If that doesn’t happen, I fear Reading’s promotion challenge could fizzle out towards the end of the campaign.

“For now, Adkins will keep squeezing the best out of his squad and give the likes of youngster Jordan Obita - a revelation this season - their big chance.

“What is certain is that Reading’s team this Saturday will bear little resemblance to the one which drew 1-1 at the Reebok in the second game of the season.”

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