Rob Hall scores two and sets up another as Wanderers claim first league win
A second half Rob Hall brace helped Wanderers secured their first league win of the season, as the Young Whites despatched Reading with ease to clinch a comfortable victory.
Niall Maher tapped home a Hall free-kick to fire Bolton into a first half lead, before the winger notched his first of the night with an audacious 40-yard lob moments after the restart.
A defensive error gifted Hall his second just after the hour mark, and despite Niall Keown netting a late consolation for Reading, the Trotters held on to clinch a deserved win.
Max Clayton made his first appearance in a Wanderers shirt since completing his move from Crewe Alexandra last week.
Elsewhere, there were returns to the starting line-up for Ross Fitzsimons, Andy Kellett and Oscar Threlkeld.
Wanderers started the match brightly, with debutant Max Clayton in particular looking lively with the former Crewe man creating two openings for Rob Hall inside the opening 10 minutes.
Sprinting down the left-hand flank, Clayton picked out Hall inside the penalty area with a low cross towards the near post, but, with his back to goal, the winger was easily dispossessed before he could turn and unleash a strike at goal.
Moments later Clayton picked out Hall again, this time crossing from the right-hand side, but despite finding himself unmarked in the penalty area the Whites’ number 11 was unable to beat Reading goalkeeper Lewis Ward.
It was Clayton’s turn to test Ward next following a great solo run from Tom Youngs. Stealing the ball on the halfway line the attacking midfielder ran at goal before slipping in the England youth international on the edge of the area.
However, with Clayton keen to take the strike on his favoured right foot, the opportunity for an early goal was soon gone as the forward’s strike was blocked by a covering Reading defender.
Hall proved to be a constant thorn in the Royals’ backline as the half wore on, and came close to opening the scoring on the half-hour mark, only to see his dipping 30-yard free-kick fly narrowly over the bar.
But the opener did come moments later, courtesy of another Hall set-piece. After bamboozling his way past numerous Reading challenges down the right-hand side, the winger cut in before he was hacked down on the edge of the Royals’ penalty area.
With the angle too acute to shoot, Hall whipped in a fierce, low free-kick which found its way to Niall Maher, leaving the defender with a simple finish from point-blank range.
Liam Kelly twice tested Ross Fitzsimons in the Bolton goal from range in what proved to be rare shots on target for Reading, but the former Crystal Palace man stood strong to tip each effort away from goal.
Georg Iliev should have made it 2-0 to the Trotters moments before the interval following good link-up play between Youngs and Clayton, but he was unable to beat Ward when unleashed one-on-one as Wanderers had to settle for just a one-goal lead as they went in at the break.
Alex Perry and Kaiyne Woolery were introduced at half-time in place of Andy Hughes and Clayton, but it made no difference to proceedings as Hall notched his first of the night with a spectacular finish to double the Whites’ lead within a minute of the restart.
Receiving the ball out on the right, Hall looked up to see Ward off his line before trying his luck with an audacious 40-yard chip, chipping the keeper perfectly with a fine strike that nestled in the top left-hand corner.
Hall could have had a second moments later as he again come close with a curling free-kick. Standing 30-yards from goal, he looked to have beaten Ward only to see the Reading keeper dive full-stretch to tip the ball away at the last moment.
He did not have long to wait to net his second however, feasting on a defensive error on the edge of the Reading box before sprinting into the area and slotting the ball calmly beyond Ward.
Hall should have completed his hat-trick moments later following great work by substitute Woolery. However, after receiving the ball unmarked inside the six-yard box, the winger miscued his finish as he looped up into the air before landing on the roof of the net.
Reading half-heartedly pushed for a way back into the game as the match wore on, but despite Kelly continuing to try his luck from distance, Fitzsimons remained largely untested for the majority of the half.
That was until the Royals did finally manage to hit the target after the break however, as Niall Keown rose highest to head home a late consolation for his side with ten minutes left on the clock.
And Reading almost gave Bolton a further scare right in the dying embers of the match as Dominic Samuels fired a fierce strike back off the inside of the post, only to see his effort rebound away for safety.
There was still time for Hall to have one last chance to complete his hat-trick, again trying his luck from a free-kick, only for Ward to once again deny him with a fine save, but in the end it mattered not as the winger’s earlier contributions ensured the Trotters eased to a comfortable victory.
Wanderers: Fitzsimons, Maher, Kellett (Sellers 72), Threlkeld, Taylor, Hughes (Perry 46), Clayton (Woolery 46), Vela, Iliev, Youngs, Hall.
Unused subs: Campbell, Lester.
Reading: Ward, Kelly (Keown 63), Griffin, Shaughnessy (Novakovich 71), Hyam, Dickie, Owusu, Fridjonsson, Cardwell (Samuel 51), Kelly, Fosu.
Unused subs: McLennan, Legg.