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18 August 2012
• Madejski Stadium, Reading, Berkshire
Referee: K. Friend
• Attendance: 23973
A. Le Fondre 90'
M. Kightly 34'
Reading showed they can match the physicality of Stoke, and will be buoyed by an encouraging performance. Both sides were a little too direct at times, however. The spoils are rightly shared at the Madejski.
Tony Pulis will be hugely disappointed to lose two points, but on the balance of play a draw was a fair result. Stoke have done little to dispel their tough-tackling, uber-physical stereotype.
A largely dull match was brought to life in the closing minutes as McCleary sparked Reading back to life, creating the penalty that won the Royals their first point of the season.
90' + 5'
And that's full-time. Reading snatch a point from the jaws of defeat.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Asmir Begovic
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Ryan Shawcross
90' + 2'
Le Fondre is taken out by Shawcross on the edge of the box. Harte steps up and just misses the goal. Reading are pushing forward in search of a winner.
Yellow Card Andy Wilkinson
Penalty Goal Adam Le Fondre
GOAL!! Le Fondre steps up to take the penalty...and tucks it past Begovic who dives the right way. The scores are level.
Yellow/Red Dean Whitehead
Drama! MCleary breaks forward, plays a one/two with Hunt but is taken out by Whitehead as he attempts to re-receive the ball. The ball bounces to Le Fondre, but his shot is saved. The referee calls back the play for the orginal foul on McCleary, awarding a penalty and giving Whitehead a second yellow card and his marching orders.
McCleary, who has been lively since his introduction, creates some space and drills a low cross towards Le Fondre. The Stoke defence swats the danger away.
Pearce attacks a backpost corner, but clatters into Shawcross in his attempt to head the ball at goal. Free-kick awarded to Stoke. The only chances Reading are creating are from set pieces, but Stoke are defending with ease.
Kightly and Pogrebnyak are replaced for Stoke and Reading respectively, bringing a close to their debuts. The Russian was kept in check by Shawcross, while Kightly made a positive impression.
Yellow Card Matthew Etherington
Yellow Card Mikele Leigertwood
Leigertwood fails to rob Whelan of the ball, biting at his ankles. On his third attempt, a frustrated Leigertwood kicks through the back of Whelan earning a yellow card.
Pogrebnyak wins a corner. Harte drifts the ball into the backpost and Pearce heads it back across goal for Pogrebnyak. The Russian's tame header is easily caught by Begovic.
Chaos in the Reading box as a Stoke corner pinballs amongst several players. The ball is eventually cleared.
Stoke are enjoying more possession now, but have yet to exert any degree of control on the match. Robson-Kanu is replaced by McCleary for his Reading debut.
Another penalty claim for Reading. Pogrebnyak is sandwiched between two Stoke players and falls to the ground. The crowd's appeals fall on deaf ears.
Pogrebnyak is fouled by Whitehead dangerously close to the penalty area. Harte lines up the ball and plots his run-up, but fails to beat the wall.
Another foul, another chance for Harte to deliver a dangerous free-kick into the box. This one drops just inside the 6-yard box, but is cleared by more resolute Stoke defending.
Gorkss is dealing with Stoke's aerial threat well, this time outjumping Crouch to clear a Stoke corner.
Another excellent opportunity for Stoke who are sitting back, absorbing pressure and breaking. A high cross to the back post in nodded back across goal by Crouch, but Walters can't quite reach it. Gorkss then makes a fantastic block to deny Whitehead.
Etherington, so often confined to the periphery in the first half, is released down the left and his dangerous low cross is well cleared.
Reading have started the half brightly. Two well worked moves in quick succession create crossing opportunities that are wasted by Robson-Kanu and Harte.
A long ball reaches Le Fondre via Pogrebnyak, and the former turns inside the box before falling to the floor claiming he was fouled. Nothing given.
The players are back out to get the second half underway. No changes for either side.
Guthrie and Harte are threatening from set pieces for Reading, while Walters has been a constant danger for Stoke.
Tony Pulis will be worried by the inactivity of Matthew Etherington. The flying winger has barely featured thus far. Pulis' side have been second best in almost every regard barring the scoreline...and foul count.
A promising first half back in the Premier League for Reading is soured by a soft goal. The Royals have had the majority of possession, but Stoke have been more ruthless in front of goal.
45' + 3'
The Madejski is eerily quiet as the half draws to a close. Pogrebnyak controls a long pass forward on the edge of the box. The ball is eventually spread wide to Robson-Kanu who fires a cross in, but Le Fondre's header is off target.
Yellow Card Kaspars Gorkss
Walters runs down the left channel but is brought down by Gorkss. The Latvian is yellow carded. Etherington plays in the resulting set piece to the far post and the ball ricochets up in the air. Three Stoke players converge under the ball, taking out Federici in the process (and almost the post). The ball dribbles harmlessly wide.
Lull in play as Reading seek to regroup. But Kightly is released down the right and crosses the ball towards Crouch. Reading clear the ball, but only as far as Whitehead who balloons the ball over the crossbar.
After having had the better of the opening half hour, Reading will be frustrated to be a goal down. Stoke had begun to look more dangerous in the minutes preceding the goal though.
Goal Michael Kightly
GOAL!! Reading fail to clear the ball and it bounces favourably onto the boot of an unmarked Michael Kightly. The debutant hits the ball low and hard and it wriggles it's way past Federici at his near post. The goalkeeper will be disappointed with that.
Stoke launch the ball forward and Crouch heads the ball on to Walters. The Irishman pings a half volley down the throat of Federici. Walters looks like Stoke's dangerman.
In something of a role reversal, Wilkinson earns a free-kick near the edge of Reading's box. The ball is fired towards the near post and Walters flicks the ball on. Federici is motionless as Walter's header drifts inches wide of the post.
Foul after foul after foul from Stoke. Harte bends in another dangerous set piece, which Stoke repel once more. The Potters are playing a dangerous game.
McAnuff dances his way past two defenders down the right, but his cross is blocked for a corner. Guthrie takes the corner and finds Gorkss unmarked on the penalty spot who heads wide. Wasted opportunity for Reading.
Yet another free kick to Reading, this time conceded by Wilkinson, but Harte's delivery is comfortably cleared.
There's a pause in play as Begovic receives treatment and a change of shirt. The goalkeeper will need stitches at half-time.
Walters brings down the ball, turns infield and fires the ball towards Federici's goal. High and wide, but Stoke's best effort of the game so far.
Yellow Card Dean Whitehead
Gunter rolls Whitehead and is brought down by the Stoke midfielder, resulting in yet another threatening set piece. Whitehead is booked, and Stoke clear their lines.
McAnuff is body checked by Wilson on the halfway line and the resulting free-kick is launched into the box. Begovic claims the ball at his second attempt, just as Pogrebnyak looked ready to pounce. The big Bosnian may have injured himself in the process.
Reading earn a corner, the first of the match, but Harte fails to beat the first man with his delivery.
Neither side has managed to test the opposing goalkeeper yet, and the game has largely bypassed the midfield with both sides playing very direct long balls to their respective towering centre forwards.
Adam Le Fondre breaks free down the left and shrugs off Wilkinson, but his cross is too strong for the onrushing Robson-Kanu.
Reading have made the marginally better start of the two teams, with Stoke giving away too many needless free-kicks early on. One such foul presents Harte with an opportunity to whip a dangerous free-kick into the box which evades everyone.
And we're underway in the new Premier League season!
We're just two minutes away from kick-off at The Madejski...
Today's game could hinge on how Reading deal with Stoke's threat from setpieces. No Championship side conceded a higher percentage of goals from set pieces than Reading last season (42%), while no Premier League scored a higher percentage of goals from set pieces than Stoke last season (58%).
Look away Stoke fans, the Potters have never won on the opening day of a Premier League season.
Michael Kightly’s promising preseason form earns him a debut at the expense of Jermaine Pennant. A familiar looking Stoke side sees Asmir Begovic fend off competition from Sorensen in goal, while Robert Huth has fought off viral meningitis to complete a backline also consisting of Ryan Shawcross (captain), Marc Wilson and Andy Wilkinson. Matthew Etherington, Glenn Whelan and Dean Whitehead join Kightly in midfield. Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters lead the line.
Brian McDermott hands debuts to three players, Chris Gunter, Danny Guthrie and Pavel Pogrebnyak. Reading’s topscorer last season Adam Le Fondre beats off competition from Noel Hunt to start up front alongside Pogrebnyak, with Jason Roberts suspended. There’s a familiar look to the defence, with Adam Federici in goal and Alex Pearce, Kaspars Gorkss and Ian Harte completing the backline. Mikele Leigertwood will accompany Guthrie in midfield, with Jobi McAnuff (captain) and Hal Robson-Kanu on the flanks. There’s a place on the bench for Jem Karacan, just four months after breaking his ankle.
Stoke: Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross (c), Huth, Wilson; Kightly, Whelan, Whitehead, Etherington; Crouch, Walters. Subs: Sorensen, Shotton, Delap, Ness, Palacios, Jerome, Jones.
Reading: Federici; Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte; Guthrie, Leigertwood, McAnuff (c), Robson-Kanu; Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak. Subs: McCarthy, Cummings, Mariappa, Tabb, McCleary, Church, Hunt.
Welcome to Goal.com UK’s LIVE coverage of Reading vs Stoke. I’m Ewan Roberts and I’ll be guiding you through this afternoon’s action! First up, here are the line-ups for today’s season opener…
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