Brian McDermott's side left it late on their return to the Premier League and looked to be heading towards a disappointing defeat, but a late penalty secured a point
Debutant Michael Kightly opened the scoring on 35 minutes after some poor goalkeeping from Adam Federici, saw his deflected shot squirm through the hands of the Australian.
Stoke dominated for large periods of the game, but when the lively Gareth McClearly was clumsily brought down by Dean Whitehead, who was sent off for the challenge, Adam Le Fondre coolly slotted home his first Premier League goal to snatch an unlikely point for The Royals a minute from time.
Reading welcomed three new signings into their starting lineup, with Chris Gunter, Danny Guthrie and Pavel Pogrebnyak taking their bows, while Kightly, recently signed from Wolves, was the only new face in a settled and experienced Stoke team.
Veteran left back Ian Harte quickly appeared to be the Royals’ main source of creativity, delivering a number of decent crosses using either foot in the opening minutes as he sought to find the towering Pogrebnyak in the penalty area.
The hosts had started out on the front foot, with the occasional sign that the Russian was to pose problems for the Potters’ back line, but there were few clear-cut chances in the opening 20 minutes.
Indeed, it was Stoke which came closest when Jonathan Walters, perhaps frustrated at a lack of possession, seized his chance from the far left to curl an ambitious effort over the bar.
It looked like the opening goal was most likely to come aerially but it was Guthrie, rather than Harte, who nearly carved it out from a corner as the midfielder swung one out with his right for Kaspars Gorkss to find space and head not far wide.
Walters then went even closer as he was afforded too much space in the box to run and meet a Stoke free kick, nodding it just wide of the far post.
The Ireland international was perking up and followed his near miss with a canny snapshot from deep that was saved by Federici. The Australian goalkeeper, though, lost his concentration a few minutes later.
Reading had given itself a problem with Gorkss’ poor header in the box falling straight to the unchallenged Kightly but, despite initially saving the winger’s shot, Federici inexplicably let it drop into the net under him to give the visitors the lead 10 minutes before half-time.
Stoke was keen to build on their one-goal cushion as they pressed on, and Walters went close again. Begovic had launched a free-kick far up the field, and after receiving a flick on, the former Ipswich striker fired from a tight angle, but this time Federici was equal to it.
However, Reading was keen to fight back after going a goal down and after doing so well to latch onto the ball on the right hand side of the penalty area, Adam Le Fondre would’ve been disappointed to see his low shot sail wide of the goal.
With three minutes of added time still to be played, Reading were keen to snatch a goal to make Tony Pulis tear up his halftime team talk notes, and it was that man Le Fondre who again had a decent chance to level the score.
Guthrie crossed into the box after the Royals won a throw-in, and his ball found Le Fondre, but the 25-year-old headed wide from only six yards out.
Neither manager decided to make a change at the break, with Reading needing to attack more after seemingly being on the back foot in the first half.
And after a slow start, Stoke could’ve extended their lead had it not been for the heroics of Reading defender Gorkss. Whitehead played a magnificent crossfield ball to Crouch, who nodded it across the goal to Walters, but the 28-year-old couldn’t sort out his feet and Gorkss cleared the danger excellently.
Pogrebnyak grew into the game and just after the hour mark used his height to knock the ball forward in between Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross, he went down rather easily under the challenge of Huth on the edge of the penalty area, but Kevin Friend was not interested and correctly waved play on.
New signing McClearly replaced Hal Robson-Kanu for the game's first change, with Brian McDermott looking to inject some more pace into the game and possibly grab an equalizer.
However, Stoke moved up a gear and started to dominate possession, with Pogrebynak being frustrated up top and chances at a premium.
Pulis opted to bring off goalscorer Kightly, applauded as he left the field, and replaced him with Cameron Jerome, and as a result, the danger man Walters moved out to the right-hand side as Stoke chased a goal that would seal their victory.
But it was The Royals who had a decent chance. Harte's corner was headed back across goal by Pearce at the byline, and Pogrebynak misjudged his header as it went harmlessly towards Begovic.
And it was to be the former Fulham striker's last involvement, with McDermott opting to haul off his new striker in favor of bringing on Noel Hunt.
And after a period of stop-starting, with free-kicks and yellow cards becoming more frequent, the Reading equalizer arrived Friend was forced into action.
The impressive McCleary darted towards the Stoke area, playing a nice exchange with Noel Hunt, and as he got into the 18-yard area, Whitehead hauled him down, and despite Reading taking the shot, the referee had no option but to point to the spot. Former Sunderland man Whitehead was then red-carded as Begovic faced Le Fondre.
The former Rotherham man stepped up and struck a neat effort just under Begovic as he dived to his left to give The Royals what could be a vital point.
There was still time for more chances as Danny Guthrie was brought down 20 yards out from goal by Shawcross. And with Reading chasing victory, free-kick specialist Harte's effort whistled agonizingly just over the bar.
With five minutes added on and a man down, Stoke looked to waste some time, with Begovic booked for running down the clock. And despite looking so dominant for most of the game, Stoke would've been relieved to leave Berkshire with a point. United States international Geoff Cameron did not dress for Stoke in the match.
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