Reading 0-2 Bournemouth: Leaders extend unbeaten start to 15 games

Reading 0-2 Bournemouth: Dominic Solanke nets 12th goal of the season before Jamal Lowe seals hard-fought win as Championship leaders extend unbeaten start to 15 games

They say statistics can be used to prove anything but all the numbers are stacking up brilliantly for Bournemouth.

This win at Reading was their 15th league game undefeated from the beginning of the Championship, breaking a club record for their best opening to a campaign dating back 60 years.

Brighton were the last side to begin a second-tier season so promisingly, back in 2015-16 when they went their first 21 unbeaten.

Dominic Solanke netted his 12th of the season as Bournemouth extended their unbeaten start

MATCH FACTS

Reading (4-3-3): Southwood; Yiadom, Moore (c), Dann, Rahman; Drinkwater, Laurent, Ejaria; Puscas (Clarke 85), Dele-Bashiru, Swift

Substitutes not used: Rafael (GK); Holmes, Ashcroft, Camara, Osorio, Ehibhatiomhan

Manager: Veljko Paunovic

Booked: Laurent

Bournemouth (4-3-3): Travers; Stacey, Cahill, Kelly (c), Zemura (Mepham 70); Lerma, Kilkenny (Pearson 46), Billing; Christie, Solanke, Anthony (Lowe 56)

Substitutes not used: Nyland (GK); L. Cook, Marcondes, Rogers

Manager: Scott Parker

Scorers: Solanke 43; Lowe 59

Booked: Kilkenny, Anthony, Mepham

Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)

Scott Parker’s team have won five consecutive matches now – also nine of their last 10 – and re-established the five-point cushion that Fulham had trimmed by defeating West Bromwich Albion 3-0 earlier on Saturday.

It’s also nine clean sheets from those 15 games and they haven’t conceded a goal on the road in the league for 672 minutes.

In a cautionary tale, that Brighton side didn’t actually win promotion, losing in the Play-off semi-finals to Sheffield Wednesday, but the doubts around Bournemouth and their promotion prospects grow fewer with each passing week.

It looks increasingly likely that Bournemouth will go toe-to-toe with Parker’s former club Fulham in the promotion race.

Dominic Solanke, with his 12th of the season, and Jamal Lowe earned this latest win, which saw Bournemouth stamp their authority after Reading had made the brighter opening.

We’ve become accustomed to Bournemouth seizing control of matches right from the first whistle this season but Reading were determined that wouldn’t happen here.

Solanke’s downward header bounced past three Reading players on the goal-line

The hosts dominated the opening 20 minutes and should really have taken the lead. Bournemouth looked unusually sluggish and were soon pinned back into defensive mode.

George Puscas should have applied a finishing touch when John Swift squared to him just a few yards out but the offside flag was raised against Swift in any case.

Reading weren’t afraid to chance their luck, with Josh Laurent sending an outside-of-the-boot shot wide of the mark from 25 yards.

And the Royals really should have led after 18 minutes. Swift is in outstanding form, both in terms of scoring goals and creating them, and the confidence in his game was evident when he pulled out a Rabona cross having beaten Gary Cahill to the ball.

That picked out Puscas, who prodded goalwards but saw his effort drop agonisingly wide of the far post.

Bournemouth had barely ventured out of their own half and their first real sight of Reading’s goal came when Cahill sent a looping header over from Jaidon Anthony’s cross from the left.

Second-half substitute Jamal Lowe doubled the lead just three minutes after coming on

That moment flicked a switch for the visitors and soon they’d established control of possession as is their usual hallmark under Parker. The balance quickly tilted in their favour, with Reading now penned in.

And the pressure would tell just a couple of minutes before the break. It stemmed from a corner, with Anthony’s delivery brilliantly anticipated by 35-year-old Cahill, who used his experience to peel off into space at the back post.

His header back across goal was perfect for Solanke, no more than three yards out, to direct a header past the bodies on the goalline and continue his excellent start to the season.

Reading emerged for the second-half with renewed intent and Puscas would surely have scored from six yards out if not for Lloyd Kelly’s last-ditch clearance.

But any time Reading pushed forward, it left space for Bournemouth to exploit. From one flowing move, Jamal Lowe surged down the left and cut back a cross for Solanke, whose goalbound shot was blocked.

Lowe had just come on for Anthony at that point and a couple of minutes later, he doubled the lead.

It was an assured low finish into the far corner, using a defender as a foil, after finding himself in acres of space to collect a pass from Philip Billing.

Suddenly, everyone wanted to get on the scoresheet. Billing let fly from 25 yards, forcing home keeper Luke Southwood to turn it behind.

Bournemouth keeper Mark Travers had not been called into action too often but he preserved the clean sheet in stoppage time with a superb fingertip save to deny Scott Dann’s header. 




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