Reading ground out a solid 0-0 draw at Stoke City today, keeping themselves just outside the relegation zone. Chances were at a premium for both sides in a low-quality match, with the wind preventing either side from exerting influence on proceedings.
The afternoon started with Reading making two changes; Callum Harriott and Michael Olise coming in for Modou Barrow and Ryan East. That meant full-debutant Olise replacing Ryan East, who’d made his first start for the club in midweek against Leeds United.
Otherwise, the teamsheet read: Martinez; Yiadom, Miazga, Moore, Blackett; Swift, Baker; McCleary, Olise, Harriott; Meite. Subs: Walker, Gunter, McShane, O’Shea, East, Barrow, Loader.
The game started out badly for Reading, as we could well have been a few goals down in the opening stages. Stoke City twice hit the woodwork early on - first through Tom Ince, then through Sam Vokes - but couldn’t find a way past Emiliano Martinez.
Reading would grow into the contest as the match went on but, with the exception of a few half chances that came down the right (Harriott’s side), we didn’t create too much. We struggled to control the match, which was in large part due to a lack of physical presence in the middle and quality up top.
The wind also played a part a few times, with Harriott needing three attempts to take a corner at one point.
The game wasn’t much better after the break in terms of quality, with few chances at either end, although John Swift would see a left-footed volley go just over.
There was an interesting tactical change during the half though, with Harriott and Olise withdrawn for Barrow and Gunter. That meant Yiadom coming into the midfield, effectively giving Reading an energetic ball winner and pushing Swift higher up the pitch.
It didn’t have a particularly big impact on the flow of the game though, with the game slowly grinding towards a 0-0. Perhaps the best opportunity for us came right at the end, with Garath McCleary driving forwards and firing just past the far post.
To me, a decent draw and clean sheet away from home. Reading probably would have lost this a few months ago, but are now able to pick up decent points here and there to keep us ticking over.
We go into the international break just above the bottom three, with key players hopefully set to return from injury. Keep the faith!