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Bournemouth 4-2 Reading

Reading slipped out of the promotion places for the first time this season after a fourth defeat. It looked like the international break had worked for the away side, after they lead by two goals at the break, only to concede four after half time.

Semedo plays both a poor pass, and the wrong pass. Should drive, or pass to Aluko in space rather than trying a very difficult through ball.

Before the game, I was critical of Alfa Semedo's continued inclusion, but it was his long legs nipping in before Begovic that won Reading their penalty. Despite that he just didn't offer enough in the rest of the match, costing his team going both ways. In the first half he had a great opportunity with a header - admittedly a chance he helped to create - but he got it completely wrong. As a defensive midfielder, heading should be well within his wheelhouse. Then there was the first time ball to try to put Ejaria through that went completely wrong, rather than easier pass to the completely unmarked Aluko. Crucially, Semedo has started six games and ended four of them without so much as a key pass.

Lewis Cook gets past Semedo far too easily

Maybe he's just generally a more defensive presence going forward? Well, in that case, Lewis Cook breezing past him in the build-up to Bournemouth's first goal should be the exact thing he's there to stop. And Cook again popping up, this time to score from 25 yards, could have been closed down with a little more urgency. In his defence, it's also Reading's policy to allow time in front of the defence, in the assumption that it would take something special to be breached from there. And Cook did produce something special, but it could have been averted.

The introduction of Michael Olise wasn't explosive, but he was an improvement - even while playing wide. It was Olise's corner that forced a save on the line by Begovic, highlighting the ridiculousness of a team that depends on set-pieces keeping its main set-piece taker on the bench. And he almost scored with the last kick of the game, only for a deflection to assist Begovic in making the save.

Olise's pull back has nobody going for it. Somebody's misunderstood the plan (although Cook read the play anyway)

Easily the worst moment featuring the youngster was a free-kick cut back to... Lewis Cook. As Olise was tracking back, he raised his arms as if to question who was meant to be making that run. It looks ridiculous, it is ridiculous, but whether it's Olise's fault is hard to gauge. I'm not convinced the pullback to the penalty spot is the correct plan given the positioning of all the players around the goalkeeper, although it could have been to open up space for the pass, but if that was the plan then somebody got their run very wrong.

The two starting wingers had decent games, but ones that fluctuated. The two combined for Reading's second just before half time. Ejaria's perfect through ball finished first time into the corner by Sone. And it was a lovely moment to see a player who's battled back into contention get his first goal in almost two years.

Ejaria tries to play through to Joao, but Semedo ran inside, with space ahead of him.

Ejaria had a bit of quiet game on the whole. A couple of times in the second half attempting to force playing direct, when safer options were more sensible. They were situations when a more direct player may have opened up space for others, but he's also coming back from an injury that may have sapped some of the stamina.

On the other flank, Aluko seemed more involved in the opening 45. On a couple of occasions, he dropped deeper, kept the ball well under pressure, and helped Reading move up the field. His runs in behind caused real problems for the Bournemouth defence, and he capped the first half with a good goal with just that sort of run. But he also made a mess of a couple of free-kicks and failed to control a through ball from Joao that would have given him a great opportunity to score. After half time he was largely anonymous - mainly having to try to cover off the new threat from Bournemouth's left wing.

For the first goal, the right-winger cut off the passing lane from Cook toward Lloyd Kelly. Esteves was more interested, understandably, in Danjuma. The pass took both Reading players out of play, as Danjuma cleverly left the ball and allowed it to run to the Bournemouth left-back. His cross was well finished. It was a good goal that Reading only got wrong in the small details, most of the credit has to go to Bournemouth.

Esteves is going too wide, and Danjuma ran inside him - found well by Brooks

But it was the right side that was under pressure again for the second goal. Esteves, I think, assuming David Brooks was going to play the ball wide allowed Danjuma to run inside him, before the winger scored past Rafael. The young right back will make these sort of mistakes, it's expected, and we need to be patient. Should we replace him with Holmes for Millwall? I'm not convinced - a team that is happy to allow the opposition possession won't suit the academy graduate, though his height could be beneficial against Smith. If Reading decide to attempt to soak up pressure, then the switch is more understandable.

Rafael assumes the shot across him, and gets beaten at his near post

However, we need to talk about Rafael. The one thing that's drummed into you as a goalkeeper is not to be beaten at your near post. Despite Danjuma being 1-on-1, it's still a fairly poor angle shot and it's made easier because Rafael assumes the shot will go across him. It was a match where you could argue that Raf cost us a point again - with the final goal also clearly down to his failure to pass the ball. The goalkeeper has to be on his last life, and it wouldn't be a shock to see Southwood come in soon.

It's easy to think of the Millwall match as a completely different test, and it's true that they may not throw as many men forward, but Wallace and Bennett will still be looking to expose those same spaces down the flanks - with Matt Smith or Bodvarsson providing the target that Bournemouth didn't need. It's boring to keep hammering on about it, but Reading are quite clearly a defence first team who have lost all defensive solidity and Veljko has to find a way to fix that quickly.


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