The Potters maintained their good form at the Britannia Stadium to claim all three points with an improved second half performance to end Reading's recent good run of formSecond half strikes from Robert Huth and Cameron Jerome gave Stoke City a 2-1 win over Reading, their first victory since Boxing Day and subjected the Royals to their first defeat in eight games.
After a dull first half the second period was littered with goals. The first came from a Stoke corner that Huth rose to meet at the back post, and powered his header into the net. Substitute Jerome doubled their lead with 10 minutes to play with a lovely half-volley before Adrian Mariappa grabbed a consolation for Reading in the closing minutes.
Both managers made one change to their starting line-ups with Michael Kightly recalled ahead of Geoff Cameron for the Potters, and Nick Blackman was given his first Royals start following his January move from Sheffield United.
The opening half lacked any kind of quality as both sides struggled to find room and create chances to threaten the other goal.
Just after the half hour Matthew Etherington sent a right wing corner curling into towards goal, Adam Federici was able to punch the ball clear but only as far as Ryan Shawcross. The defender flicked at the loose ball but the Australian keeper was able to tip the looping effort over the bar.
Five minutes before the break the best chance of the half fell to Crouch but he too was denied by the Reading goalkeeper. Kightly showed a lovely bit of skill to get him away from two defenders, his chipped ball found Crouch who chested and then volleyed the ball towards goal but Federici was again able to turn it over the crossbar.
The second half started at a much higher tempo and it was the home side who began to exert more pressure. The introduction of Cameron Jerome and Kenwyne Jones gave them a new impetus and the move by Tony Pulis was rewarded minutes later as the home side took the lead.
Just after the hour Jon Walters missed a glaring opportunity but his blushes were spared when from the resulting corner Huth opened the scoring. Glenn Whelan delivered a deep corner to the back post and the centre-back rose above Alex Pearce to head home, the defender's effort clipping the underside of the crossbar on its way in.
With 10 minutes to play the home side added a second goal through Jerome. The striker got a bit of luck as the Reading defenders could only head a long ball up in the air but he controlled the ball whilst holding off Alex Pearce on the penalty spot, and thumped the ball past Federici on the turn.
The scoring looked to be over but Reading were not beaten just yet and Mariappa gave his side a lifeline minutes later with a neat header. He got in front of his marker at the front post and sent his flicked header past Asmir Begovic.
However, the home side held on for all three points, despite a late penalty appeal as Adam le Fondre tumbled under a challenge from Ryan Shotton, with referee Michael Oliver dismissing the Reading players' appeals.