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Match Reports

Report | Solid stalemate in Stoke

Goalless at the bet365 Stadium

16 March 2019

Reading came away from their trip to the bet365 Stadium a point better off, as a goalless draw earned them a share of the spoils.

An evenly-balanced encounter in difficult conditions brought no goals; hosts Stoke City came the closest by striking the woodwork twice in the first period but neither team could make the net ripple.

After making a 20-minute cameo from the bench against Leeds United in midweek, 17-year-old Michael Olise was handed a first start as a senior player. Callum Harriott and Garath McCleary also came into the starting XI, with Mo Barrow, Ryan East and Danny Loader all taking a seat on the bench.

The bet365 Stadium fully lived up to its reputation as a windy place to play – the Royals kicked off in conditions where the corner-flags were practically horizontal. Indeed Reading's first corner, from the right, took a few minutes to take successfully as the ball was repeatedly blown out of the quadrant before Harriott could deliver.

The woodwork prevented the hosts from getting ahead twice within the space of minutes, and the blustery weather was a factor. James McClean stabbed a cross towards Sam Vokes, who nodded into the path of Tom Ince, but the forward pulled his left-footed shot into the base of the near post.

Vokes himself was the second to strike the frame of goal, as Potters debutant Thibauld Verlinden got to the left byline and hung up a cross which was glanced against the bar. Liam Moore made a characteristic block to deny McClean on the follow-up.

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Chances had been hard to come by for the Royals in the opening exchanges, but a bold run by John Swift through the middle almost carved a good opportunity. He fed Olise on the right and Swift picked up again after Bruno Martins Indi had made a clean tackle, but the midfielder's cross-shot was scooped up by Jack Butland.

The England stopper was called into action again moments later when a searching ball into the channel by Matt Miazga found Andy Yiadom on the run. He cut back for Harriott, whose curling effort was central and claimed without concern.

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Yiadom was supporting the attack readily down the right flank and his raw pace allowed him to skip past Martins Indi and pull back to the edge of the area when Olise was waiting, but the ball was nipped away in the nick of time by a recovery tackle.

Half-time: Stoke City 0-0 Reading

The Royals had the wind at their back after the break, as the heavens opened - the rain turned into a downpour.

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Reading were harrying and hassling their hosts, and could have opened a lead in spectacular fashion if Swift had made a slightly more accurate contact with a first-time volley. Vokes made the defensive header as a free-kick was pumped into the area, and the Royals man was only just askew with a venomous volley.

And then a moment of magic from Olise, who showed guile and trickery to win the ball in the Stoke half and dance through a few challenges, before eventually being bundled to the ground on the edge of the area; no infringement from the officials' point of view.

Having been a spectactor for a long period, Emi Martínez was forced into action midway through the second half and added to his list of spectacular saves. Joe Allen spread wide for full-back Tom Edwards, and McClean stabbed an early effort at goal which was palmed away with cat-like reactions.

Simmering tempers threatened to boil over when Peter Etebo and John Swift clashed in the second period as the Reading midfielder was manhandled as he tried to stride into a gap; the referee booked both players.

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McCleary and Lewis Baker linked up well down the right, but Baker couldn't pick out Yakou Méïté or sub Mo Barrow in the middle with a low centre. Soon after, Méïté spun Danny Batth as he got onto a straight ball through the middle and the referee dipped into his pocket again.

Former Royals striker Benik Afobe came off the bench to use his hulking frame to good effect; he rolled a challenge as Etebo slipped a low ball into the area but hooked his shot mercifully into the arms of Martínez.

The Royals threatened deep into stoppage time when McCleary linked up with Méïté to steam in on goal, but he was forced into a slightly rushed effort from the edge of the area which flashed a yard past the post. Goalless it ended, the spoils shared.

Full-time: Stoke City 0-0 Reading

Stoke City: Butland, Allen, Ince (Diouf 90+1), Etebo, Vokes (Afobe 70), McClean, Batth, Martins Indi, Shawcross, Edwards, Verlinden (Bojan 80).
Subs: Federici, Williams, Adam, Woods.
Yellow: Etebo, Batth.

Reading: Martinez, Yiadom, Blackett, Moore (c), Miazga, Baker, Swift (Loader 89), Olise (Barrow 62), McCleary, Harriott (Gunter 62), Meite.
Subs: Walker, O’Shea, McShane, East.
Yellow: Harriott, Swift.

Attendance: 24,368 (669 away).

Referee: Mr J Simpson


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