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📝 Match report | Injury time leveller denies Royals a winning return

Nick Powell headed home a 92nd minute equaliser to earn Stoke City a point at an empty Madejski Stadium this afternoon - after Reading had led through Lucas

20 June 2020

Reading were denied a winning return following football's resumption when Nick Powell headed home a close range equaliser to deny Lucas Joao the title of matchwinner at the Madejski.

Five minutes into the game and the first chance fell to the hosts. Jordan Obita made progress down the left and swung in a delightful cross. It fell to Joao who tried to glance it goalwards whilst pivoting away from his marker but it was easy for Jack Butland to collect it on his goalline.

But moments later, the Royals did take the lead. Olise rode a challenge in midfield and fed Meite wide on the right with a defence-splitting pass. He cut the ball back from the byline and picked out Joao who passed the ball into the bottom left corner with an assured finish.

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The Potters grew into the game a little and Nick Powell's deflected cross from the left side of the box floated just too high for Lasse Sorensen at the back post.

After a short drinks break, the Royals came close to doubling their lead when Olise found some space and pulled the trigger from 22 yards out, forcing Butland into a fine save low to his right.

Twice Reading came close to picking out Joao in the middle - first Chris Gunter's volleyed cross from the right flank, then Olise delivering a delightful ball into the box from the same flank only to see it skid past the outstretched leg of Joao in the middle.

Joao then made an opportunity all of his own, embarking on a direct run past a number of City players and into the box only to seemingly have his trailing leg clipped by Sorensen as he bore down on Butland. The referee waved away appeals and nothing was given.

But the striker's afternoon was frustratingly cut short soon after injury struck - George Puscas came on in his place to lead the line. The game lost a little flow in the final ten minutes of the half and the two teams retreated to their dressing area with Mark Bowen's men a goal to the good.

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Half-time | Reading 1-0 Stoke City

A huge appeal for a penalty kick-started the second half - Jordan Obita delivering a deep cross into the box and Morrison seemingly pushed in the back as he prepared to connect with a header. Nothing awarded.

In a carbon copy of his free-kick against Portsmouth in a pre-restart friendly last weekend, John Swift was denied by the underside of the crossbar - sweeping a free kick past the City wall and beyond Butland only to hear the sound of the woodwork echo around the stadium.

Nathan Collins directed a half-won header towards Reading's goal soon after, connecting with a corner from the right. But it was easy for Rafael to gather in as the hour mark approached. The narrowness of the lead was again almost exposed when Stoke broke at pace but the eventual shot at goal was blocked and looped over the bar for a corner.

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Stoke hit the woodwork with a little over 20 minutes remaining; Puscas kept a ball in to prevent a Stoke throw near half way but in doing so City regained possession and found Tyrese Campbell in the middle on the edge of the Royals box. He struck a good effort that deflected off a blocking defender and spun past Rafael's stretching arm to clip the outside of the left upright.

A fine Gunter block denied McClean a clear shot at goal as Stoke ramped up the pressure in search of a leveller. And it was McClean who sent a set piece just over the crossbar moments later, following Richards' foul on Campbell 25 yards out.

Swift's ankles were clipped just as he was about to pull the trigger following MEite's pull back - but no free kick was given the home side's way and we entered the final ten minutes with just a goal separating the sides.

Moore slid in to clear a dangerous McClean cross and both teams made changes - McCleary and Adam coming on to take out substitution tally to four, while Lee Gregory entered the fray as Stoke City's fifth change.

Powell took aim from range but his right-footed drive skewed wide of the target as four minutes of additional time were signalled.

And a late corner resulted in an injury time equaliser for the visitors. Charlie Adam's clearance was blocked and the ball bobbled behind for a corner, which was swung in. A downward Stoke header landed to Powell who nodded the ball scrappily over the line to make it 1-1 from close range.

It was a cruel end to a game which the Royals dominated for large parts, but a point apiece was the end result.

Full-time | Reading 1-1 Stoke City

Reading: Rafael, Gunter, Richards, Moore (c), Morrison, Obita, Swift, Ejaria (Adam 82), Olise (Rinomhota 72), Méïté (McCleary 82), João (Puscas 38).
Unused subs: Walker, Baldock, Blackett, Masika, Osho.
Goals: Joao (7) 

Stoke City: Butland, Ince (Vokes 66), Chester, Martins Indi (Gregory 82), Shawcross (Batth HT), Clucas, Powell, Campbell, Sorensen, Thompson (McLean HT), Collins (Smith 72).
Unused subs: Davies, Ward, Oakley-Booth, Tymon.
Goals: Powell (90+2)
Yellow: McClean, Clucas

Referee: Mr M Salisbury


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