A tough battle in tricky conditions – the points were shared from Reading’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday as the game ended goalless.
The Royals owed parity at the break to a string of smart saves by Emi Martínez, but with the wind behind them in the second half, were unfortunate not to take any of their opportunities after the interval.
Manager José Gomes was without the injured Nélson Oliveira, as well as Ovie Ejaria who had succumbed to illness in the week. But returning to the squad were Jón Daði Böðvarsson and Paul McShane, both taking a place among the substitutes. In came Mo Barrow, Garath McCleary and Sone Aluko for three changes to the starting XI.
Within two minutes of kick-off, the Owls registered their first shot and forced Emi Martínez into an acrobatic save. After the Royals conceded a cheap corner, Steven Fletcher saw a shot blocked low before George Boyd’s fierce effort was palmed away by the Argentine stopper.
Fletcher was next to chance his arm, cutting in from the right and bending goalwards from outside the area. Too close to the goalkeeper, who saved comfortably.
Reading began to grow into the game – and it was skipper Liam Moore who almost opened the scoring. Aluko recovered the ball upfield after a corner was only half dealt with, and the captain’s bicycle kick was touched around the post by Keiren Westwood’s fingertips.
Midway through the half, on a blustery afternoon, Wednesday defender Morgan Fox rose highest to an Adam Reach corner but diverted over the bar.
The Royals were showing signs of cut-and-thrust on the counter, and midfield man Lewis Baker went close to rounding off a quick attack. Swift threaded through to Barrow on the right flank, who picked out Baker arriving. Jordan Thorniley deflected the effort past the post.
The conditions were playing their part; a direct ball forward by Swift held up in the wind, allowing Barrow to nip in ahead of Westwood. Collecting inside the area, wide on the right, the Gambian drove an effort goalwards, but saw it cleared off the line with other options available. A big opportunity which fizzled out harmlessly.
The Owls looked to finish the half strongly and it needed another brave save by Martínez to keep the game level. Fernando Forestieri shimmed into the area, crossed low, and Sam Hutchinson's stabbed shot was kept out at point-blank range.
Half-time: Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Reading
Three minutes after the restart, a glorious opportunity for the Royals which they couldn't quite convert. Baker pinched the ball from Owls captain Barry Bannan and offloaded to Aluko; he ran into traffic in the area but laid off to Swift, whose strike was blocked in the box.
The home crowd began to grow restless as the Royals wrestled the initiative. McCleary drifted in off the left after Swift's driving run, but he dragged his effort past the near post.
And then Baker lined up an effort from the best part of 25 yards; a deflection send the ball looping over Westwood, who adjusted in time to tip over the bar.
With the wind at their backs, all of the chances were coming Reading's way. Swift's free-kick was just too close to the goalkeeper, and Baker's volley from a hanging Andy Yiadom cross was drilled into the ground and bounced frustratingly over the bar.
Wednesday sub Rolando Aarons threatened to provide some spark for the hosts and he was just run off the ball as he entered the area; the loose ball pinballed just out of Forestieri's reach.
Owls skipper bent a free-kick past the post as they looked to turn their upturn in momentum into a goal.
A mix-up at the back for the home club nearly resulted in a lucky opener; Méïté telegraphed Fox's ball back to the goalkeeper and nipped in, only to see his effort turned out for a corner.
Both sides were looking for what would surely be a game-winning goal; Reach nearly stole it in the 89th minute as he was teed up outside the area and whipped his shot past Martínez's far post.
And Reach again, in the final of the four added minutes, missed a chance to nick it; Liam Palmer got to the right byline and cut back, but the front-man diverted over.
Goalless it ended - points shared.
Full-time: Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Reading
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer, Fox, Fletcher (Nuhiu 86), Bannan (c), Thorniley, Reach, Boyd (Aarons 65), Hutchinson, Hector, Forestieri (Joao 75).
Unused subs: Dawson, Pelupessy, Iorfa, Lazaar.
Reading: Martínez, Yiadom, Blackett, Moore (c), Miazga, Rinomhota, Baker (Harriott 72), McCleary (Méïté 59), Barrow, Swift, Aluko (Böðvarsson 79).
Unused subs: Walker, McShane, Richards, Kelly.
Referee: Mr J Brooks