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Stoke held at home by Reading

Stoke were held to a 0-0 home draw by Reading in the Sky Bet Championship.

In a contest that yielded few clear-cut chances, the hosts were frustrated by a stubborn Reading side, who picked up a valuable point on their travels in their battle against the drop.

The Royals sit one point above the drop zone, while Stoke are 16th – 11 points clear of the drop and 10 off the play-off places.

Stoke began brightly and Nathan Jones’ hosts went close early on, with midfielder Tom Ince crashing his shot off a post before forward Sam Vokes saw his header from Thibaud Verlinden’s left-wing cross cannon off an upright.

Potters goalkeeper Jack Butland was later called into action on a blustery afternoon in Staffordshire, dropping down low to his right to keep out Callum Harriott’s low drive across goal.

Openings at goal were limited in the first half following that point, with Ince’s free-kick curling over the crossbar while James McClean fizzed a low effort from the right through a sea of players in a crowded box which went just wide.

As play resumed for the second half in swirling wind and rain, Reading’s John Swift profited on a loose ball which had been half-cleared from a free-kick from the right, with the midfielder volleying left-footed from 25-yards which narrowly dropped just over Butland’s bar.

Wales international Vokes was again proving a thorn in the Royals’ side, finding space in the box to connect with McClean’s whipped cross from the right, though he could only guide his header off target as visiting keeper Emiliano Martinez remained untested as Stoke pushed in front of an expectant home support.

On the hour, Swift once again had a go at goal from distance for the visitors but his fierce effort was dealt with by Butland.

Jose Gomes’ side proved a tough team to break down and they frustrated Stoke throughout the second period.

McClean was thwarted by a sprawling reaction save from Martinez from Tom Edwards’ cross before Ince saw the follow up chance blocked by Chris Gunter inside the six-yard box.

Opportunities continued to fall Stoke’s way. McClean swung a right-sided cross towards the back post which was met by the on-rushing Verlinden, however the Belgian midfielder, making his league debut, directed his downward header wide.

Stoke continued to search for an elusive winner but could not find a way through, with Benik Afobe shooting straight at Martinez late on as Reading earned a share of the spoils.

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