TOP REPORT: Five-star display from Whites keeps pressure on Derby

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<p><figcaption class=Aaron Collins celebrating his opening (Image: PA)

Ian Evatt had said Wanderers went into battle with “water pistols rather than an armada” at Stevenage but the goals came flooding in against Reading.

The Whites went into the game six points behind second-placed Derby after a couple of tough away trips either side of the international break, albeit with a game in hand.

An Aaron Collins hat-trick fired Bolton to victory in front of over 25,000 supporters who were in attendance for People’s Day. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson also bagged a brace to send the crowd home happy.

Evatt made two changes from the side that drew at Stevenage, with Jack Iredale and Bodvarsson replacing Will Forrester and Cameron Jerome.

Forrester played the full 90 minutes at the Lamex Stadium – his first appearance since January after being injured.

Both Nathan Baxter and Dion Charles remained on the other side – the latter was given an outside chance to feature against the Royals.

Gethin Jones was again absent from the squad due to a bruised hip picked up on international duty with Australia, while Randell Williams returned to the bench after recovering from a minor knock that kept him out against Stevenage.

Meanwhile, Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan came into the Reading side for Ben Elliott after his winner against Northampton a few days earlier.

The early stages were cagey. Joel Pereira’s kick fell to Bodvarsson 35 yards out but he couldn’t quite get a shot in as the Reading keeper went back to his goal.

Ehivatiomhan then got into a dangerous position on the left after Ricardo Santos robbed possession but Joel Coleman cut out his cross.

The opener came after 11 minutes and it was six minutes of real quality from Collins. Reading’s defense backed off and made them pay, unleashing a superb strike into the top corner from outside the penalty area, giving Pereira no chance.

The goal settled any nerves early and Wanderers found their groove, putting the Reading backline under waves of pressure in search of the second goal.

Collins saved a header from a tight angle after Josh Sheehan’s corner was set free at the far post.

Pereira then spilled Iredale’s cross under pressure from Bodvarsson, but Maghoma was unable to take advantage.

Collins thought he had added a second after beating Tyler Bindon’s weak back and past the keeper, but the Reading defender made a crucial clearance on the line.

Sheehan also went over but Pereira got a strong hand with his low drive, which looked destined for the bottom corner.

Eoin Toal saved a leader from point-blank range after rising high at a corner, and felt that Bolton might be made to pay for their missed chances.

That’s exactly what happened five minutes before the break when Wing let fly from distance. His strike appeared to take a huge deflection and flew into the top corner despite Coleman’s efforts.

There was a sense of déjà vu after the defeat in Berkshire earlier in the season when – Wanderers had let a lead slip and left it empty – but this time it didn’t take long to get back in front.

Collins was brought down by Amadou Mbengue in the box and referee Ben Toner took seconds before pointing at the spot.

The former Bristol Rovers man kept his cool to send Pereira the wrong way from 12 yards and double his tally for the evening.

Evatt’s men picked up where they left off early in the second half when Maghoma Bodvarsson struck and Iceland made no mistake.

Reading had a mountain to climb and Ruben Selles opted to make a double change, bringing on Andy Yiadom and Jayden Wareham in place of Jeriel Dorsett and Ehibhatiomhan.

The pair made an immediate impact, with Yiadom tripped by Iredale just on the edge of the Bolton box. Wing went in pursuit of a goal from the resulting free kick but Coleman watched him all the way and made a smart stop.

The visitors continued to press as they searched for a way back into the contest. Wareham had the ball in the net but it was denied by the other side’s flag after the Bolton keeper made an initial effort but was then successful from close range.

Clinton Mola also beat Coleman with a thumping strike from outside the area just after the hour mark.

Now it was Evatt’s turn to make a double change, with Zac Ashworth and Kyle Dempsey coming into the fold as Wanderers looked to wrestle control. Forrester was also brought in from the bench moments later.

Collins completed his hat-trick 15 minutes from time with another moment of quality in front of goal, rifling past a helpless Pereira after a pin point in the Reading box. It capped a special evening for the 26-year-old, who is still getting used to life in the North West after his January move.

He left the field moments later to a huge reception from the Bolton faithful and was replaced by Jerome, with Aaron Morley also coming on to freshen things up in midfield.

The Wanderers were not happy with four and somehow Ashworth’s wicked cross avoided everyone in the box.

Dempsey then had a great chance to add a fifth after racing onto George Thomason’s pass but was unable to find a way past Pereira.

Reading got their second in injury time when Paul Mukairu headed home from close range after the Whites failed to clear their lines.

But Bodvarsson restored the cushion through the Wanderers goal almost immediately with another instinctive finish from close range.

Dempsey had another good chance with almost the last kick of the game but sliced ​​wide after finding a pocket of space.

The pressure on Derby is now firmly on as the Rams prepare to face leaders Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

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