Reading started off their return to the Premier League against a physical Stoke City side in front of a packed out Madejski Stadium. For Reading, new signings Chris Gunter, Danny Guthrie and Pavel Pogrebnyak started with the core of the team staying the same from the Championship winning team from last season.
The game started off slowly with neither team really forging any chances or having any sights of goal. Reading looked to be a bit slow off the mark and it showed a couple of times when there was a 50-50 ball, the Stoke player would usually triumph. Coming into this game, the Reading fans goal hopes were pinned on the new Russian forward Pogrebnyak but he never really got into the game and was easily tamed by Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross.
It was Stoke that scored the first goal of the game through Michael Kightly, after Adam Federici let the ball slide between his fingers. The shot wasn’t a hard one and it is one that the Australian will never want to see again as it gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at half time.
The second half was much more energetic and despite occasional flurries from Stoke, the main chances were all for Reading. There were a couple of penalty appeals turned down despite the Reading fans protests but misses from Pogrebnyak in particular will show Brian McDermott what he needs to work on in training.
Reading were wasteful with the chances that they did get and it was a surprise to see some of Ian Harte’s trademark free kicks not being attacked from the men inside the box. Reading brought on two players in the second half as they looked for an equaliser with Noel Hunt replacing Pogrebnyak and new signing Gareth McCleary replacing Hal Robson Kanu.
These two subs sparked new life into the Reading team and it allowed Guthrie to take control of the game and spray the ball from side to side with wonderful precision. It was a counter attack late on in the game that proved to be the break Reading needed. Gareth McCleary sprinted off down the right wing and pushed the ball inside to find Noel Hunt. Before Noel Hunt could take a proper shot he was hacked down by Dean Whitehead, who was sent off and a penalty was awarded.
The celebrations over getting the penalty stopped and the stadium fell silent. Adam Le Fondre stepped up to take the spot kick and planted the ball expertly into the bottom right hand corner, out of the reach of the Stoke ‘keeper. Jubilant scenes in the home end of the stadium as Reading had done what they always do, score late.
A point is a good start to the season for Reading and inevitably we will be last on Match of the day. Back to business and next game is against European Champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.