Stumped? Reading had no answer, either. But if this is Yanic Wildschut still looking for his match sharpness then Wanderers fans can expect fewer sleepless nights this season.
The Dutchman has thus far been unable to dislodge Will Buckley on the left side of Phil Parkinson’s Championship attack and has the aura of a man who is not happy being sat on the bench.
So when a thigh injury meant Wildschut got a half-time introduction at the Madejski Stadium, he wasted little more than two minutes before scoring a goal which amounted to a giant ‘told you so’ aimed back towards the dugout.
Side-lined for so long at Norwich City last season, it is unlikely Wildschut will be content playing anything other than the “main man” he pledged to be on his arrival.
If the winger’s snarling celebrations looked in some way cathartic, a release of pent-up frustration, Parkinson would not have minded a jot. The Wanderers boss chalked up his first-ever victory over his old club Reading with the kind of meticulously-planned and disciplined away performance he must dream about.
His opposite number Paul Clement was hardly gracious in defeat.
“I felt it was impossible that we could lose the ga
The same optimism certainly wasn’t shared by the home supporters, who spent the afternoon voicing their discontent – quietly – under their breath.
If only more Championship managers can overlook Bolton this season in the same way.
Reading certainly has chances to have nudged ahead. Ben Alnwick made one stunning one-handed save from Jonathan Swift’s free-kick, with the rebound cleverly dealt with by Andy Taylor.
David Wheater made another goal-saving challenge on Yakou Meite which summed up the mood of the visiting team. Mark Beevers and Pawel Olkowski were equally belligerent as they kept the Royals at bay.
Jason Lowe’s excellent screening job in front of the back four ensured there were not too many passes which got in behind the defenders. And if there is any obvious weakness in the team at present – it is when Wanderers are forced to defend on the turn. But when a team has this kind of attitude to protect a clean sheet, it goes a long way.
Buckley could have grabbed himself a goal after a crisp exchange with Josh Magennis on the edge of the box but was unable to beat Vito Mannone with a rather tame effort. He was withdrawn at half time through injury and within three minutes his replacement had put Bolton ahead.
Craig Noone continues to impress in Sammy Ameobi’s absence and it was his perfectly-weighted flick which played Wildschut through for his second goal of the season just after half time.
From there the game-plan was to hold shape and counter quickly. Reading simply lacked the guile to cut through.
Conditions were tough on a muggy, humid day in Berkshire but the yardage covered by Luke Murphy, Josh Vela and Josh Magennis ensured the Royals never had time to settle into a rhythm.
What toll such a workload took will probably be better gauged when Parkinson picks his side against Birmingham City on Wednesday night – but it is hard to imagine an unchanged team based on the energy expended to protect the lead in the second half.
Noone was out on his feet by the time he unsuccessfully tried to guide the ball out of play in the corner, allowing Meite to nip in and create another scramble in the Bolton box. It was no surprise when Clayton Donaldson replaced him a minute later.
With a touch more composure in midfield, Wanderers could have extended their lead. A couple of passes went astray when they a lighter touch would have put Wildschut, Magennis and Co through on goal. They are minor grievances, however, and when you consider the previous two away victories in the Championship had been 56 attempts in the making, any result on the road should be welcomed with open arms.
Reading’s desperation to find an equaliser showed as Mannone raced forward for an injury time corner. Again, Wheater and Beevers were at their imperious aerial best.
And so Wanderers move into fifth place in the early Championship table, who’d have thought it? There is an argument that this side could be better suited to playing away from home, when the onus to attack is not as strong. But success thus far has been built on hard graft – and that is a quality supporters in these parts hold dear.
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