O’Neill disappointed as Stoke fire blanks in Reading draw

Disappointed Stoke boss Michael O’Neill was frustrated his side failed to break down Reading in a goalless draw at the Bet365 Stadium.

Stoke squandered a host of presentable chances as neither keeper made a save in blustery conditions in Staffordshire.

“It was frustrating to be honest,” admitted O’Neill, whose side missed the chance to get out of the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone.

“I thought we had decent opportunities that we could have taken some more care with.

“We were probably reliant on an individual to try and create something special to win the game for us.

“We had some opportunities but we didn’t take them. I don’t think it was a game that we ever looked in danger of losing. But we didn’t have enough quality to win it and that’s really disappointing.”

Northern Ireland boss O’Neill was quick to praise his defence for keeping a second successive Championship clean sheet for the first time this season.

But he thinks the league schedule made his creative players redundant after a third game in seven days.

“It’s another clean sheet, we’ve not had many of those this season,” said O’Neill.

“Liam Lindsay has come in the last two games and we haven’t conceded. That gives us a platform to build on and that’s a real positive for us. Defensively I’m pleased, but I’m disappointed we didn’t win.

“Maybe that’s the way the Championship is with the third game in a week making it difficult for our creative players to have an impact on the game. That’s something we’ll have to be mindful of going forward.”

The Royals remained five points clear of the Potters and the dreaded drop zone after extending their unbeaten run on the road to three games.

Boss Mark Bowen praised his side’s work-rate after some “harsh words” after the draw at basement boys Barnsley in midweek.

Bowen said: “I’m pleased with the performance. There were some harsh words at St George’s Park after the Barnsley draw.

“We were pleased with a point at Barnsley, but it was the manner of the performance that didn’t sit well with us.

“We spoke about being braver and working harder and that paid off here. We’ve had injuries, but you have to get on with it.

“As a coach when you change a system because of injuries you wonder if you’ve had enough time on the training ground.

“Coming to an away ground we’ve controlled our own destiny by controlling the ball better and that’s pleasing.

“If there’s one criticism it’s that we didn’t really create much. We need to be better in that area.”

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