Reading: Al Habsi; Gunter, McShane, Cooper, Obita; Williams, Norwood; McCleary, Vydra, Robson Kanu; Kermorgant.
Subs: Bond, Hector, Rakels, Ferdinand, Piazon, John, Quinn.
Despite a fine defensive display against a side that had scored in each of their last eleven Championship outings, the Royals were unable to find a winner against their Black Country opposition in an end-to-end game at the Madejski Stadium.
In a goalless first half, it was Reading who had the lion's share of the goalscoring opportunities. A spritely start from the Royals' front line saw Paul McShane go close from a corner with a fifth minute volley, whilst just five minutes later Hal Robson Kanu saw his effort blocked after a good run into the box from Gareth McCleary. As Wolves began to grow into the game, former Academy product James Henry nearly made it two goals in as many games against his former employers in the league this season, as he dragged his twelfth minute effort just wide of the Royals' goal.
However, the majority of the attacking pressure continued to come from the home side, with Yann Kermorgant and Gareth McCleary testing Carl Ikeme in the Wolves goal before twenty minutes had come up on the clock. At the other end, Ali Al-Habsi too proved a difficult obstacle to break down as he pulled out a top drawer save on 32 minutes to keep out a fine free-kick from James Henry.
As the first half drew to a close, both sides began to resort to a more counter attacking style in order to catch out their respectively resilient defences. Danny Williams picked up a knock in the midst of this high-tempo action, which saw him requiring treatment on the pitch from the Royals' medical staff. The influential American was however able to pick himself up and had Reading's last clear attacking effort of the half, as his fizzling drive from outside the box was kept out by a brave block in the Wolves defence.
The second half began without any changes on either side, and there was also no change in the frenetic pace of the game. James Henry continued to be a thorn in the Royals' side as he almost capitalised on a breakdown in communications within the Royals backline on 49 minutes. The usually calm Jake Cooper misjudged his header back to Al Habsi, forcing the Omani shot-stopper to scurry across his area in order to keep out the effort of the quick-thinking Henry and maintain the Royals' parity.
To help Reading find an elusive breakthrough, Brian McDermott introduced the nippy Ola John in place of Gareth McCleary just before the hour mark and his substitution almost had an immediate impact. The Dutch international whipped a ball in from the left-hand side, which Oliver Norwood touched back to Matej Vydra, whose deflected effort was sent just past the post.
As the two sides entered the final quarter of the fixture, the game very much remained a seeming war of attrition, with both teams remaining unable to break down their opponents, despite their best efforts. Robson Kanu continued to push down the wings but was unable to convert any of his crosses into a fruitful opening, whilst McShane continued to be strong in the box as his last-ditch tackle kept the ball away from the on-rushing Bjorn Sigudardson. There was enough time for the Madejski Stadium faithful to see McDermott hand out a debut to January arrival Deniss Rakels, who replaced Matej Vydra on 80 minutes.
The Royals continued to press up until the death, as Robson Kanu saw his shot from a Rakels cross saved, before Rakels himself had a penalty shout turned down by referee Tony Harrington in the final minute of normal time. The Latvian was again involved as he headed down for fellow January signing Kermorgant in the 92nd minute, but the Frenchman was unable to keep his effort on target. This was very much telling of a Royals' display where for all their attacking play and creative flair, they were unable to show a ruthless streak in front of goal, as evidenced by the fact that of their seventeen shots registered, just two were on target. A more clinical display will be required in future to convert draws such as today's into some much-needed wins.