Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash between Stoke City Reading at the bet365 Stadium as the Potters and the Royals played out an underwhelming goalless draw on Saturday afternoon
Saturday 6 February 2021 17:58, UK
Stoke’s winless run was extended to eight Championship matches with a dour 0-0 draw at home to Reading.
The Potters enjoyed plenty of possession against the play-off chasing Royals but lacked any cutting edge.
It summed up a dull encounter which saw both sides only manage to hit the target three times between them.
Stoke came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when Steven Fletcher had a goal ruled out for offside.
James McClean should have done better when he fired weakly straight at goalkeeper Rafael Cabral during a good spell of home pressure.
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The visitors rarely threatened and did not record their first shot on target until the 79th minute.
It means Michael O’Neill’s men have now not tasted victory since their 1-0 win at home to Blackburn on December 19.
Home ‘keeper Angus Gunn had to punch John Swift’s inswinging free-kick to safety in the eighth minute.
Reading’s Michael Morrison then headed a dangerous Sam Clucas corner to safety while under pressure in the 16th minute.
McClean was booked for a dive after he went down following a challenge by Tom McIntyre in the 25th minute.
Clucas then hit a snap-shot volley well wide from 25 yards three minutes later as the home side started to take charge.
Fletcher had a goal chalked off for offside in the 29th minute after he clinically volleyed home from six yards.
It came at the end of a superb counter-attack by City, which saw McClean head a deep Jack Clarke cross into the striker’s path.
Clarke headed wide at the back post from a Clucas cross in the 34th minute.
Josh Laurent then did well to turn another excellent Clucas corner over his own bar as Danny Batth waited to pounce.
McClean tamely shot straight at the ‘keeper after John Obi Mikel picked him out, having superbly turned his man.
Thomas Holmes headed Batth’s deep free-kick behind at the back post for a 56th-minute corner as Stoke continued to push.
Yakou Meite headed over just after the hour mark, with Morgan Fox needing treatment after falling heavily as he challenged for the ball.
Harry Souttar headed a Meite cross behind for a Reading corner as Lucas Joao lurked in the 70th minute.
Ovie Ejaria shot straight at Gunn from distance in the 79th minute as the visitors started to wake up.
Jacob Brown went into the book four minutes before the end following a reckless challenge on Morrison.
Brown saw a header beaten away by the visiting ‘keeper in stoppage time after McClean picked him out.
Meite then blazed wide from a corner with the last kick of the game.
What the managers said…
Stoke’s Michael O’Neill: “I was disappointed with the result, but I was pleased with the performance. I think we should have got more from the game. We were the dominant team for 65 minutes, but couldn’t take advantage and get ahead in the game. The final ball let us down.
“The commitment and effort was there and we can’t ask any more. Reading posed a threat at the end but it would have been harsh if we hadn’t got at least a point.”
Reading’s Veljko Paunovic: “I think it (the Brentford match) is a very important game. It is one of the most important of the season.We don’t want to put pressure on us by saying it is a must-win game, but we know how we need to prepare for Brentford.
“We know the pressure is building because of the time of the season, but we won’t put additional pressure on our shoulders. We are good competitors in every single game and we will compete against Brentford. We know what is in front of us and we know it won’t be easy, but we will give it our all.”
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