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Bournemouth 3-1 Reading

Reading allowed the chasing pack to move within two points with another disappointing defeat, this time away at AFC Bournemouth. Although the loss isn't exactly surprising, given the two sides' recent form, the manner of defeat was particularly frustrating.

The opening two minutes was all Reading, with Gorkss eventually putting a free header over the bar after getting completely underneath the ball - but that's where Reading stopped playing football, and started imploding. Matt Ritchie scored with less than ten minutes gone, when a ball into the left channel was pulled across the six yard box by Lewis Grabban.

Royston Drenthe made a blistering run down the right-wing at 1-0, but only ended getting bundled off the ball with ALF screaming for it in the middle. 1-1 is a completely different game, and Drenthe's aversion to passing the ball so often ends with the team on the defensive after losing possession. However the reason the fans chant his name is, not only because he's one of the highest profile Reading players ever, but also because he's so often the only player on the pitch who looks like he wants to be there. Admittedly not enough to keep him in the team - so many wayward crosses again today - but it would be nice to see that commitment from the rest of the team. I feel Pog should probably get a mention, he looked to provide the impetus on many an occasion and held up the ball as well as one could be expected with no support.

Today was a perfect storm against Reading. Gorkss had a particularly bad game - almost every pass missed its target, and so often got the team into trouble; Bournemouth knew exactly how to exploit our defence - over the top, and force the centre backs to turn; and finally having both Williams and Guthrie out injured meant that those in the central midfield positions didn't pick up runners, and our midfield was completely overrun. Playing Bridge also seemed like a mistake, he wasn't up to the pace of the game and was substituted early in the second half. When playing Gunter and Obita we have pace at the back to cover balls over the top, but today whenever Gunter was caught up pitch we had nothing.

So within 17 minutes it was 2-0, and they were lucky not to concede more. A weak McCarthy parry could have been turned in, but luckily a man in blue and white got there first, and a corner almost fell to Grubban but was taken off his foot acrobatically by a teammate who blazed over. Grubban was also clean through after he beat everybody for pace, but he somehow missed McCarthy's bottom left corner.

That wasn't to save The Royals though, as less than a minute before the 45 were up lax defending once again meant that Bournemouth could easily pick a ball into the corner before crossing - this time Kermorgant headed home. At half-time it was quickly becoming a question of damage control, because, what with teams closing in, goal-difference is quickly becoming an important factor.

It seemed like Bournemouth were content with what they had, but in the second-half they still managed to have the better chances. Hal Robson managed to pull a goal back with a nicely placed finish, but even that didn't save him from the fans' frustrations when he bottled a challenge. At that point, a 2-1 scoreline would have been a lot better, or potentially even a 2-2 if Drenthe had squared to ALF.

All in all, the result was flattering to Reading, but it also means that there is still something to play for. I just wish that the players saw that. Leigertwood looked fairly good for somebody who's been out for the best part of a year, and Reading actually played some fairly nice stuff in stoppage time. Although that may be because Bournemouth sat off and let them play. Leicester on Monday is huge!

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