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Match Reports

Royals earn clean sheet in Stoke stalemate

A point on the board as Reading are held by Potters

14 December 2019

Reading earned a clean sheet and a point on the road on Saturday, as the Royals and Stoke City played out a 0-0 draw at the bet365 Stadium at the weekend.

Both sides had their chances on the day in Staffordshire, but it was a point apiece for the teams in the Sky Bet Championship.

Reading started with three changes from midweek, with Sam Baldock, Tyler Blackett and Pelé coming in for the injured George Pușcaș and Matt Miazga, with Jordan Obita also missing out.

It was the hosts who forged the first chance of the game early on, when former Liverpool man, Joe Allen played a one-two with Tom Edwards on the right and got behind Reading's defensive line.

He cut back to Wales international teammate Sam Vokes in the box, but the striker's effort comfortably cleared the crossbar.

Vokes was the target again in the area shortly afterwards when James McClean's cross found him in the box, but Rafael was again untroubled. Liam Moore came to the rescue for the Reading defence when Tom Ince wound up for a volley from range, with the skipper throwing his body on the line to block the drive.

The Royals' first foray forward saw Baldock and Chris Gunter combine on the right to force a corner. Former Stoke man, Charlie Adam took the set piece, Michael Morrison was found in space in the box, volleying at goal but a red and white shirt was able to block.

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Reading threatened again when Ovie Ejaria showed tenacity to win the ball from Stephen Ward on the right, driving forward and finding Adam 30 yards out - who tried a first-time strike with his weaker right foot, but failed to connect properly and the ball sailed into the stands.

The hosts had the ball in the net on the half-hour mark when Sam Clucas found a low ball into Ince. The winger poked it beyond Rafael from close range, but the flag had gone up for offside against the Stoke man.

The remainder of the half became a scrappy affair in midfield as both sides fought for possession, with chances becoming fewer and farther between as a result on a bitterly cold afternoon in the Midlands.

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A throw-in and a clever turn from Ince saw him turn his way into space 25 yards out, trying a dipping half-volley at goal. Rafael was at full stretch, and the ball bounced narrowly wide in the best effort of the half.

It wasn't a classic half of football at the bet365 Stadium, but it was honours even at the interval with the result in the balance.

Half time | Stoke City 0-0 Reading

The second half started with a substitution for the hosts, as Tommy Smith was introduced in place of Tom Edwards at right-back.

Reading pressed from the off, with a battling run from Pelé earning the Royals a corner. Play was recycled and Adam was found in space on the right. He cut through the Stoke backline and arrowed a low ball across the face of goal, but João was too far away to apply the crucial touch.

Up the other end, the hosts broke and substitute Smith was able to break, jinking back onto his left foot and letting fly from 20 yards - only just clearing the crossbar in a good opportunity for the Potters.

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For Reading, Garath McCleary was brought on for Adam in a change of tack in midfield, with neither side gaining any headway in front of goal in a difficult afternoon for the attackers to that point.

A piece of improvisation saw the substitute almost make an immediate impact, when Baldock shepherded the ball out for a throw-in, taking it quickly and McCleary was able to get into the box. He was winding up for a shot, but a last-ditch tackle from Ward saw the ball cleared at the last.

Lucas Boyé was introduced for João shortly afterwards, with the striker coming on to partner Baldock high up the pitch for the Royals.

Reading kept the pressure of the hosts under wraps as they began to dominate the ball, shooting towards the 575 travelling Royals in attendance at Stoke on Saturday.

Against the run of play, though, Ince had a fantastic opportunity to score the opener. He picked up possession after a corner broke down, in space on the right flank. He worked his way into the box to shoot left-footed across goal - mercifully wide of Rafael's post, however.

Danny Loader was brought on for the final few minutes in place of Baldock as the Royals searched for a winner in Stoke, in a nip-and-tuck encounter away from home.

There was no way through for the Royals on the day, however, and another point was added to their tally in the Sky Bet Championship table.

Full time | Stoke City 0-0 Reading

Stoke City: Butland, Edwards (Smith 46), Ward, Lindsay, Batth, Allen (c), Cousins, Ince, McClean, Clucas (Powell 83), Vokes (Hogan 63).
Subs: Davies, Diouf, Collins, Woods.
Yellow: McClean

Reading: Rafael, Gunter, Morrison, Moore (c), Blackett, Rinomhota, Pelé, Adam (McCleary 65), Ejaria, Baldock, João (Boyé 72).
Subs: Walker, Loader, Méïté, Howe, Richards.
Yellow: Adam, Moore

Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 21,701 (575 away)


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