A youthful Reading side was held to a 0-0 draw against Malaga B on Tuesday morning, as the Royals got 90 minutes under their belts for the first time in pre-season.
After a first half where chances were few and far between, the match opened up in the second period as the Royals held onto a clean sheet, while threatening to score the winner.
It was the first outing of new loan signing, João Virginía in a Reading shirt on Wednesday morning, as he started between the posts against Malaga B.
Once again, a youthful line-up took to the pitch in Estepona, with the added experience of John Swift in central midfield for the Royals, alongside Sam Baldock in a lone striker’s role.
The first 45 minutes yielded little in front of goal for either side, in a cagey affair dominated by the midfields as the teams struggled to create too much in terms of chances.
Reading did get behind the defence early on with Tyler Frost’s run, but his cross to Baldock saw the striker stray offside.
Young winger Frost was full of running in the first half, frequently looking to get himself into good positions – but chances were not forthcoming.
Baldock hassled and harried the goalkeeper midway through the half, blocking his attempted clearance, not getting the rub of the green on that occasion as it ricocheted out for a goal kick.
A water break was required on a sweltering morning in Estepona at the club’s training camp, and the action resumed with the teams still looking to break the deadlock.
Malaga did break forward on one occasion, getting towards the edge of the Reading area through Hugo – who bent beyond Virginía but also wide of the post.
The best chance of the half came three minutes before the interval, after Jordan Holsgrove was brought down 25 yards from goal.
Swift stood over the free-kick, as he has done so often in a Reading shirt, bending over the wall and on target – with the goalkeeper making a flying save to his right to deny the Royals playmaker.
First half | Reading 0-0 Malaga B
With Reading set to play the full 90 minutes for the first time in pre-season, a new challenge emerged in front of them as Malaga changed their entire line-up for the second half – meaning they would have the challenge of playing a whole team with fresher legs.
As such, the Royals were put under plenty of early pressure in the second half. Virginía was called into action to make a low save to his left from a powerful 15-yard drive, before getting pause to two Malaga strikes in quick succession.
Up the other end, another Swift free-kick beat the wall from range, with this particular effort landing on the roof of the net.
Baldock then had a fantastic chance to put the Royals ahead. He was threaded through on goal with an incisive pass into the area – the striker chipped the goalkeeper, with his effort floating just over the bar.
Jokull Andrésson was introduced in goal for the final 25 minutes, with the 17-year-old making a fantastic double-save almost straight after coming on – first a low save with his legs, before blocking over the bar with his head.
Holsgrove also looked threatening from a dead ball, winning a free-kick outside the area four minutes from time. His 25-yard strike flew towards goal, narrowly missing the upright as the search for a goal was ultimately futile, while keeping a hard-earned clean sheet.
This is not the end of the match action for the Royals today, as another Reading line-up will take on Spanish second tier side, Extremadura UD at 6.30pm BST on Tuesday.
Full time | Reading 0-0 Malaga B
Reading: Virginía, Watson, Osho, Odimayo, Richards, Swift, East, Holsgrove, Trialist, Frost, Baldock.