Stoke City 0-0 Reading FC – Royals pick up a point on the road

Spoils shared at the bet365 Stadium

Reading moved a point clear of the relegation zone with a goalless draw at Stoke.

The game ended all square at the bet365 Stadium against the mid-table Potters as Jose Gomes’ men responded well to their midweek loss against Leeds United.

Stoke rattled the woodwork twice during an impressive early showing but Reading settled into the contest to keep the game level at half-time.

Michael Olise made his first Reading start

The Royals were unable to work Jack Butland in the Stoke goal but did go close through John Swift and Garath McCleary after the break, however the spoils were shared.

Reading slip to 21st in the Championship table having been leapfrogged by Wigan, who beat Bolton, but they are now a point ahead of Rotherham in 22nd after they lost to high-flying Norwich.

Gomes made three changes from the midweek defeat against Leeds United, notably handing a first start to 17-year-old Michael Olise. Callum Harriott and McCleary also came in with Danny Loader, Ryan East and Mo Barrow dropping to the bench.

Stoke came narrowly close to breaking the deadlock twice in the opening 20 minutes with the visitors relying on the woodwork to keep the Potters at bay.

The first effort came when James McClean’s break forwards fell to Tom Ince, whose shot stayed out.

And moments later the crossbar was rattled when Wales international Sam Vokes latched onto a Thibaud Verlinden cross and headed against the frame of the goal.

The Royals settled into the contest and broke dangerously just before half-time through Andy Yiadom, but his cross was cut out as Olise looked to nip in.

And it was Reading who carved out the early openings after the restart with John Swift volleying just off target before Yakou Meite also missed a decent chance.

Chris Gunter made an important late block

Gomes turned to his bench, introducing Chris Gunter and Barrow in place of Harriott and Olise and Gunter was quickly called into action to make a vital defensive block after Emi Martinez had denied McClean.

Teenager Verlinden almost marked his debut with a goal, meeting a McClean cross and heading wide as the game entered its final 15 minutes at a blustery bet365 Stadium.

Substitute Barrow has been a late goal hero in each of the past two Saturdays and he almost made it three from three. McCleary and Lewis Baker linked up well before the latter fizzed a low cross towards Barrow, but he could not apply the touch.

Both sides had chances to snatch victory at the death with Benik Afobe’s shot saved by Martinez before McCleary fired agonisingly wide deep into stoppage time as the game stayed goalless.

The Royals now have a two-week break before hosting Preston North End on March 30.

READING: Martinez, Yiadom, Miazga, Moore (c), Blackett, Swift (Loader 89), Baker, Harriott (Gunter 62), Olise (Barrow 62), McCleary, Meite.
Subs not used: Walker, McShane, O’Shea, East.
Yellow cards: Harriott (44), McCleary (62), Swift (73)

STOKE: Butland, Edwards, Shawcross, Batth, Martins Indi, McClean, Allen, Etebo, Verlinden (Bojan 80), Ince (Diouf 90+1), Vokes (Afobe 70).
Subs not used: Federici, Williams, Adam, Woods.
Yellow cards: Etebo (73), Batth (78), McClean (90)

Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Attendance: 24,368

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