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Match Reports

Clean sheet for Mannone on Royals debut against Sparta

Young Reading side fight hard for goalless draw in Holland

22 July 2017

A youthful Royals side played out a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Sparta Rotterdam in Holland on Saturday morning.

Efforts from Josh Barrett and the returning John Swift were as close as the team got on the day, with Sparta Rotterdam making life tough for the Royals in the second half.

Shots from Lovette Felicia and Youri de Winter saw Sparta's best chances well saved, as both teams played out a goalless draw in Oosterbeek.

In new signing Vito Mannone's first start as a Royal, he was rarely troubled in the opening stages of the match, with both teams clamouring for dominance in possession.

Despite the high-tempo nature of the early exchanges, neither side was able to forge a clear-cut chance to open the scoring.

The young Royals side looked dangerous going forward, though, with Josh Barrett breaking down the left hand side on the quarter-hour mark.

He beat his man and powered into the area, but put his cross-goal shot just wide of the far post.

John Swift made his first start of pre-season as well, looking threatening with a mazy 30-yard run in midfield stopped by being brought down just outside the box. He stepped up for the resulting free-kick but his shot flew a yard past the upright.

The Royals were in the ascendency as the half wore on, taking control of play and forcing the initiative against their top-tier Dutch opponents.

They almost made a breakthrough after Tyler Frost’s looping cross from wide right was met with Sam Smith’s arching header, well caught by Sparta goalkeeper Leonard Nienhuis.

Swift looked to keep creating from set pieces, floating a free-kick into the Sparta area, met by Jake Cooper but his header was caught comfortably by Nienhuis at the near post. 

Royals started the second half quickly, with tidy one-two passing from youngsters Ryan East and Tyler Frost finding Danny Loader 18 yards out, his first-time shot clearing the crossbar.

Sparta Rotterdam responded, though, with their first clear chance coming courtesy of Youri de Winter's cross to the far post met by an erratic volley from Abdou Harroui that soared high and wide of Mannone's goal.

Our opponents grew into the match as the second half progressed, de Winter breaking again down the left, sprinting away from the chasing defenders and forcing a low save from Mannone to his left, in his first real action of the day.

The former Arsenal and Sunderland stopper had his gloves tested again soon after, a rifled drive from Lovette Felicia held well at his near post.

Counter-attacking looked to be the most potent attacking option for the young Royals side, with Andy Rinomhota bursting through the middle before finding Barrett, who cut inside but could not keep his 18-yard effort down.

Barrett was in among the action again soon after, being fed out on the left by Frost, powering an effort in but well saved by Nienhuis low to his right.

Reading: Mannone, Frost, Richards, Cooper, McShane (c), Rinomhota, Swift (Quinn, 57'), East, Loader, Barrett, Smith.

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