REPORT | Wanderers 5 Reading 2

Bodvarsson Collins celebrations Reading

Aaron Collins was Wanderers’ hat-trick hero as the Whites showed they’re still in the promotion race with another thumping home win, writes Pete Oliver.

Ian Evatt’s men followed up the five goals they put past Oxford United in their last home game with another nap hand to keep the pressure on second-placed Derby County in the League One table.

The gap is back down to three points ahead of the Rams’ trip to leaders Portsmouth on Tuesday night with Wanderers keeping their part of the bargain in their bid to get back into the top two before the end of the season.

Collins took top billing with his first treble for the Whites and second of his career – two years on from a hat-trick for Bristol Rovers at Rochdale.


Collins first goal Reading

This one was played out in front of a bigger audience with a crowd of over 25,000 Wanderers’ biggest home gate of the season on another Community Day.

And they went home happy as Jon Dadi Bodvarsson also struck twice as the Whites rattled in three second half goals in a top-class performance from Evatt’s side, who matched last season’s tally of wins for the season.

It was a display that could, and should, have brought even more goals to boost the goal difference further. But with three of Wanderers’ remaining five games also at the Toughsheet Community Stadium, there’s still a big chance to improve on that and potentially take the promotion fight to the wire.

With such a big crowd behind them and so much at stake, Wanderers couldn’t have asked for a better start.

After setting a positive tempo from the off the Whites were rewarded with a stunning strike after just 10 minutes to take the lead.


Collins penalty Reading

After Josh Dacres-Cogley had won back possession and Paris Maghoma and then George Thomason worked the ball into the feet of Collins, the striker made enough space to lift his head and steer a wonderful curling effort into the top corner from close to 25 yards.

Reading – closing in on safety at the end of a trouble season off the pitch – looked for an immediate response as Charlie Savage and Clinton Mola saw shots blocked by Ricardo Almeida Santos and Jack Iredale on the latter’s return to starting duty.

Bodvarsson also earned a recall on the back of Good Friday’s goalless draw at Stevenage and the striker almost laid on a second goal for Collins with a flick-on the Welshman took around goalkeeper Joel Pereira before seeing Tyler Bindon block his finish on the line.

Pereira was a busy man as Wanderers kept their foot on the throttle in search of a second goal their domination deserved.

The Royals’ keeper saw an effort from Maghoma deflected just wide but then made a brilliant save to keep out a superb first-time effort from Josh Sheehan, struck first-time on the volley from 25 yards after Iredale’s cross had been cleared.


Bodvarsson first goal Reading

An Eoin Toal header was then blocked on the line as Wanderers also looked dangerous from the succession of corners they forced from balls fired across the goalmouth.

But without that second goal they hadn’t killed off Reading’s ambitions and the visitors’ threat on the break paid off with an equaliser five minutes before the break.

Ruben Selles’ side weren’t slow to get men forward and when Wanderers failed to clear the ball from one aborted counter-attack, Lewis Wing pounced to send a long-range effort past Joel Coleman with the aid of a deflection off Ireddale.

That might have rocked the Whites but, crucially, they quickly regained the advantage in stoppage to lead at half-time.

Reading had struggled to cope with Wanderers as an attacking force and were undone again by a lovely ball over the top from Dacres-Cogley for Collins, who was tripped in the box by Amadou Mbengue before picking himself up to coolly tuck away with the resulting penalty.

With momentum restored, Evatt’s men then went for the kill at the start of the second half and five minutes in doubled their advantage to put themselves firmly back in control.


Collins third goal Reading

Again, it was a lovely move that opened up the Reading defence for Maghoma to cross low for Bodvarsson to quickly sort out his feet and flick the ball home at the near post with a finish to move within one of double figures for the season.

Some of Wanderers’ movement and intricate passing was a joy to watch and moments later the visitors were carved open again for Maghoma to look a certain scorer until his effort was blocked.

Goal difference could still be key in the promotion race and the Whites kept looking for a fourth, although they also had to ride out a rocky spell as Reading threw caution to the wind and Coleman had to save from Wing and Mola, while a Jayden Wareham effort was chalked off for off-side.

Having weathered that, Wanderers came again and with a quarter of an hour to go Collins completed his hat-trick.

A sublime ball from the back from Ricardo Almeida Santos sparked the break-away and after George Thomason had seen two efforts blocked, Collins seized the initiative with a thumping strike on the turn that rocketed into the roof of the net.


Collins celebration third goal Reading

That was his final touch of a memorable afternoon’s work and following a further double change, substitutes Aaron Morley and Zac Ashworth combined perfectly to deliver an inviting low cross which just eluded both Bodvarsson and Cameron Jerome following his arrival from bench.

The substitutes certainly made an impact and another, Kyle Dempsey, almost made it five when Thomson released him for a chance he couldn’t squeeze past Pereira.

Suddenly a potential four-goal advantage was trimmed to two when Paul Mukairu then pulled a goal back for Reading in stoppage time.

But there was still time for Wanderers to add a fifth when Bodvarsson poked the ball home at the far post after Ashworth and Thomason had worked the opening.

And even then, Dempsey could have capped off a superb performance from the Whites with another but from Bodvarsson’s flick he shot wide at the end of an action-packed afternoon that could yet be pivotal in the battle for a promotion place.

Wanderers: Coleman; Toal, Almeida Santos, Iredale (Forrester 73); Sheehan (Morley 79); Dacres-Cogley, Maghoma (Dempsey 70), Thomason, Ogbeta (Ashworth 70); Bodvarsson, Collins (Jerome 79). Substitutes: Ramsay, Williams.

Booked: Ogbeta, Sheehan

Reading: Pereira; Mola, Mbengue, Bindon, Dorsett (Wareham 54); Wing, Savage Craig 81); Ehibhationmhan (Yiadom 54); Azeez (Mukairu, 88); Smith (Elliott 87). Substitutes: Button, Abrefa.

Booked: None

Referee: Ben Toner

Attendance: 25,266 (1,299)

Read Time: 6 mins