Defences were on top in a goalless affair with Carlos Carvalhal's Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon, although the hosts created a number of half chances to steal victory both before and after the break.
- First half of few clear cut chances ends goalless despite chances for Aluko and Edwards
- Barrow squanders good chance to break deadlock late on, firing wide.
- Mannone untroubled for duration; Rhodes glancing wide with Wednesday's best chance
Yann Kermorgant returned to make his second start of the season up front, while Vito Mannone was back between the posts after missing the Bolton draw due to personal reasons. Liam Kelly and Joey van den Berg also started in midfield alongside Dave Edwards, but Swift missed out with a hamstring issue.
The Royals earned two half chances within the first five minutes – Gunter found space down the left and delivered a fine cross towards Kermorgant at the near post whose header was blocked by Joost van Aken and deflected behind for a corner.
Then more joy down the left saw the ball fizzed low into the Wednesday box. Edwards got a flick but couldn’t direct it goalwards, however Aluko recycled it and stabbed a cross shot across the six yard box but without finding a telling touch that would have makde it 1-0.
Kelly supplied Edwards in space in behind the Owls’ back line but the offside was raised against for former Wolves man. Then Aluko scampered inside from the right to take aim with his left foot, fizzing a low effort on target but easy for Keiren Westwood in the centre of his goal.
Midway through the half and Glenn Loovens was booked for a cynical foul that stopped Barrow from bursting clear. And two inswinging crosses from Aluko failed to find a target - the first nodded clear as Kermorgant lurked, the second too deep for Moore at the back post.
It took a good block from Gunter to see off the strike of Liam Palmer in Wednesday's first attack of note with half an hour played. But on the counter attack, Reading looked dangerous; Edwards nearly picked out Kelly with a central ball that Kermorgant did well tmo dummy, then Gunter's clipped cross needed heading behind with Edwards storming into the box looking for a connection.
The resultant corner flew off a Reading head with Westwood stranded, but the ball sailed over the crossbar and the game remained goalless. Reading patiently created more openings, Van den Berg drilling wide from range and in first half injury time both Aluko and Edwards scuffing their shots from inside the area to allow Wednesday to survive.
Half time | Reading 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday
The first chance of the second half came from a Wednesday free kick - it failed to bet the Royals wall but was dinked back in and found three Owls, all onside, looking to volley the ball past Mannone. Thankfully Joao's stabbed effort was easily saved by the home keeper.
And a very direct goal kick from Westwood a few minutes later found Fletcher in behind the Reading defence. He brought the ball down well but couldn't get the ball out from under his feet in time to trouble Mannone with a shot - McShane and Edwards got back in time to dispossess him and hack the ball clear.
Just before the hour mark, Aluko came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock. Barrow cross from the left, Kermorgant flicked it on to Kelly who teed up Aluko on the edge of the box - he arced a first time right-footed effort inches wide of the bottom right corner.
Bacuna embarked on a driving run from the right but arrowed his effort on target too high to cause Westwood any concern, but Wednesday were looking for a breakthrough too without creating any clear cup openings of their own.
Bodvarsson and Clement were introduced by Jaap Stam, but Hooper and Bannan combined down the right to produce a deep cross that alomst found Fletcher arriving at the back post.
But the best chance of the game fell Reading's way with nine minutes left. Bacuna broke and fed Bodvarsson down the right. He took a touch to take it to the byline and cut a low cross back for Bacuna who got a slight flick on it before the ball arrived at the feet of Barrow. But 12 yards out, the winger couldn't get into the right shape to shoot and fired well wide when it seemed Westwood would be tested.
Moments later, another good opportunity was carved out; Aluko crossed from the right and Edwards rose at the near post but couldnt' get a glancing head to it. It dropped in the six yard box and Barrow almost got on the end of it, but his marker did enough to muscle him out of what would have been a simple finish.
Three minutes left and substitute Jordan Rhodes glanced a header wide from a good position, then Clement pulled the trigger at the other end but his fierce effort struck Aluko on its way towards the target.
Four minutes of injury time saw Sheffield Wednesday put everyone behind the ball in protecting their point and there was no way through despite the Royals' best efforts.
Full time | Reading 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Reading: Mannone, Bacuna, Gunter, McShane (c), Moore, Van den Berg, Edwards, Kelly (Clement 78), Barrow (Beerens 89), Aluko, Kermorgant (Bodvarsson 73).
Subs: Jaakkola, Richards, Blackett, Ilori.
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Jones, Loovens, van Aken, Lee, Fox, Bannan, Palmer, Reach, Joao (Hooper 59), Fletcher (Rhodes 82).
Subs: Wildsmith, Hunt, Butterfield, Vanancio, Rhodes, Nuhiu.
Referee : Mr D Coote
Att: 18,382 (3,055 away)