Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Stoke too strong for Royals

Robert Huth, right, gave Stoke the lead against Reading
Robert Huth, right, gave Stoke the lead against Reading

Robert Huth's first goal of the season and a superb Cameron Jerome effort ensured Stoke returned to winning ways as Reading's recent good run came to an end following a 2-1 result at the Britannia Stadium.

The Potters, who had not registered a Barclays Premier League victory since Boxing Day, were in control for virtually the entire contest and finally broke down their opponents' stubborn resistance in the 67th minute when Huth nodded home a Glenn Whelan corner.

Substitute Jerome then cracked the ball in with nine minutes of normal time remaining having taken the ball down neatly and turned his marker before Adrian Mariappa pulled one back with a header two minutes later for the Royals.

Reading had a sniff with Mikele Leigertwood dragging an effort wide, but Stoke were soon back on the attack and Michael Kightly saw his shot blocked by Mariappa just before the half-hour mark after he had drifted past Ian Harte into the area.

Adam Federici tipped over when Potters captain Ryan Shawcross tried to guide the ball in left-footed from a failed clearance, and Peter Crouch then looked to produce something similar to his spectacular goal last season against Manchester City - only to slice his attempted volley well off-target.

Moments later the striker fashioned a much better acrobatic effort, chesting down Kightly's cross, letting the ball bounce and then firing it goalwards with a scissors kick, bringing a good save out of Federici.

Jon Walters won a corner with a deflected shot on the turn and it was delivered by Whelan to Huth, who crashed a header past Federici.

Stoke looked to finish the job off but Matthew Etherington put his shot over the bar, and Adam Le Fondre - scorer of five goals in Reading's recent unbeaten run - then began to cause problems. He had the ball in the net in the 74th minute, but referee Michael Oliver judged Pavel Pogrebnyak had handled before teeing Le Fondre up and the strike was disallowed.

Jerome then capitalised on a Mariappa error, collecting the ball when the Reading defender misplaced a header from Shawcross' long delivery, getting the better of Alex Pearce and smashing a strike into the net.

The Royals hit back swiftly with Mariappa heading in Harte's corner, but they could not salvage anything this time, with both sides having penalty appeals waved away in the closing stages.

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