Reading were left very frustrated by Doncaster this Saturday afternoon as Rovers held on for the scrappiest of points.
Brendan Rodgers' team were the better side throughout, and Rovers keeper Neil Sullivan pulled off a couple of very good stops, including one stunning full-stretch save from sub Grezgorz Rasiak with twenty minutes to go.
The visitors did not register a single shot on target in the second half, but we could not quite open up a decisive opportunity in the way we wanted to.
Brian Howard and Darren O'Dea both came close to debut goals, Howard hitting the bar with a 30-yard effort and O'Dea denied a headed goal by a good Sullivan stop.Adam Federici
did have to make a couple of good saves of his own, keeping out an inadvertent Shaun Cummings effort on his own goal and also bravely diving at the feet of James Hayter toward the end of the first half.
It was a frustrating afternoon as Rovers stood firm and refused to budge under our pressure. They were happy to wind the clock down throughout the game, but we will also look for that extra cutting edge that would have proved decisive.
Reading: Federici; Cummings, Bertrand, Pearce (c), O'Dea; Gunnarsson (Cisse 68), Karacan (Rasiak 59), Howard; Kebe, Sigurdsson (Matejovsky 59), Hunt
Subs: Hamer, Mills, Tabb, Church
Doncaster: Sullivan; Chambers, Roberts, Lockwood, Shackell; Spicer (Hird 65), Stock (c), Oster, Woods; Coppinger (Sharp 76), Hayter (Guy 76)
Subs: Smith, Wilson, Shiels, Fortune
Booked: Woods (dissent 35), Stock (foul 39), Chambers (foul 79)
Ref: P GibbsFirst half
It was clear from the off that both teams were intent on playing the ball on the floor, and it made for some intricate passing in tight areas.
Reading's new-look team was looking to create chances with a passing style, but also not afraid to press high up the pitch when Rovers had possession at the back.
The first incident of note came in the seventh minute, and Rovers could well have been punished for a handball right on the edge of their own box but nothing was given.
It continued to be a tight affair, and the first meaningful shot on goal arrived in the 24th minute. Jimmy Kebe got in a cross from wide on the right, and former Royal Adam Lockwood could only flick it on to Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Icelander was in a decent position inside the box, but Neil Sullivan pulled off a good save and luckily for him the rebound fell to a red and white hooped shirt.
Reading were upping the tempo, and Brian Howard almost had an incredible goal on his debut, clipping the top of the crossbar with an effort from all of 30 yards.
We enjoyed a good spell, but could not quite turn it into a clear moment in front of goal.
Down the other end we had to thank Adam Federici
on a couple of occasions, first of all when he made a stupendous stop as debutant Shaun Cummings inadvertently diverted a free kick toward his own goal.
Then our 'keeper showed incredible bravery a minute before half time, coming out as a Rovers player put in a very high challenge. He needed treatment from Jon Fearn but was thankfully able to carry on.Second half
The first 15 minutes of the second period were low on goalmouth opportunities, a wide Howard free kick and a flap from Sullivan the closest the Royals came.
Brendan Rodgers then made a double substitution, bringing on Marek Matejovsky and Grzegorz Rasiak in an attempt to bolster his attacking options.
Immediately we almost scored, Howard's corner finding O'Dea but Sullivan pulling off a very good stop. Suddenly Rovers were under pressure, and Alex Pearce may have done better with a header from another Howard corner.
Then Sullivan was again Rovers' hero, making a quite brilliant save from Rasiak. Howard slipped in the big pole, and he hit a cracking left footed drive from 18 yards, only to see Sullivan dive full stretch and palm it away left handed.
At any moment when we thought we could turn our possession into a goal, the game seemed stunted - either by the referee's regular whistling or Rovers' reluctance to take any set play at more than a walking pace.
Rovers were barely out of their own half for any real length of time, but we were also finding it very hard to open them up. With five minues to go Cummings did well down the right and it needed a desperate challenge to block his cross-shot at the near post. This brought about a succession of corners, but Sullivan was able to deal with them - and predictably the sequence ended with a foul given against Reading.
Three minutes of added time was considerably short of what should have been allowed given the six subs and numerous stoppages, and the grandstand finish never quite came.
Rovers will certainly have been far happier with a point, having failed to register a single shot on goal in the second half. They ground out a very scrappy draw, and with a little more incisiveness we would certainly have won.