REPORT: Reading 0-0 Dons: Honours even at the Madejski

Simon Church at his former club Reading. Pic: Lee Scriven
Simon Church at his former club Reading. Pic: Lee Scriven

Dons carried on their positive start to life in the Championship with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.

Chances were at a premium for both sides, though Simon Church would have wanted to do better which a first half chance he dragged onto the post.

Diego Poyet made an impressive start to life at MK Dons. Pic: Lee Scriven

Diego Poyet made an impressive start to life at MK Dons. Pic: Lee Scriven

For Reading, Hal Robson-Kanu should have done better but found an in-form David Martin wise to his shot from point blank range, though the Royals were largely restricted to efforts from range as they continue their search for their first win of the season.

The result sees Dons remain fourth in the table.

Daniel Powell’s goal against Bolton on Tuesday night wasn’t enough to earn him a place in Karl Robinson’s starting line-up at the Madejski Stadium. However, there was a start for Diego Poyet in the centre of midfield - the West Ham man joined on a season-long loan on Wednesday. Rob Hall also returned to the starting line-up, while Carl Baker dropped to the bench. Neither Cristian Benavente nor Sergio Aguza made the squad.

And it was the visitors who settled into their routine early on and dictated the play. Hall was enjoying some time and space on the right flank, but needed to do better when he evaded the attentions of Jordan Obita to get in behind, blazing his strike wide.

Rob Hall fires wide. Pic: Lee Scriven

Rob Hall fires wide. Pic: Lee Scriven

Making his debut in the centre, Poyet was making moves all over the field, but was proving most useful in intercepting Reading cut-backs as he hovered just inside his own penalty area. His distribution was useful too, pinging balls to the flanks with aplomb.

While it was a quiet opening period for both keepers though, David Martin had to keep his wits around him as everyone else stopped to prevent Hal Robson-Kanu from giving Reading a 22nd minute lead. Most of the players from both sides expected referee David Coote to blow for a penalty when it appeared Kyle McFadzean handled in the box. But Robson-Kanu played to the whistle, and fired in from point blank range, but found Martin equally as astute, getting something on the ball to put it wide.

Dons, or namely Rob Hall, were almost the architects of their own demise when, seven minutes before half time. Playing the ball inside to where he thought Jordan Spence was, Hall in fact picked out Orlando Sa, who laid the ball back to Stephen Quinn on the edge. The former Dons loanee wrapped his right foot around it, but it was always going over the top, though Martin still went at it full stretch to make sure.

Dons went straight up the other end though and carved a chance for themselves. Dean Bowditch played the key role in getting into the box, but Simon Church, back on his old stomping ground, scooped the ball onto the right-hand post, with Bond well beaten.

Reading turned up the wick in the second half, and took the game to Dons though their progress on goal was little different to the first period. Their best chance of the early exchanges came when Aaron Tshibola danced his way into the penalty, only to hit a tame strike for Martin to comfortably roll on to.

Both sides were guilty of losing their passing accuracy too, with both Robson-Kanu and Carruthers wasting great opportunities with a bout of dreadfully misplaced balls.

Oliver Norwood wasted Reading’s best chance of the game though when he beat Darren Potter twice on the edge of the box to carve himself some space. But rather than taking the ball into the area, he opted to shoot on site, giving Martin plenty of time to get across and palm the ball around the post.

Robinson’s round of substitutes, introducing Daniel Powell, Sam Gallagher and Carl Baker seemed to inject a new lease of life into Dons as they entered the final 20 minutes with more of a belief in them. Powell looked dangerous and unpredictable in equal measures, while Baker looked keen to take on Obita at left back.

Reading continued to have the better chances though, with Martin needing to be at his best to keep out Danny Williams’ fierce drive from 30 yards out as the game continued to ebb and flow into the final minutes.

But with both sides very evenly matched, neither were able to create anything in the dying moments, and had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Referee: David Coote

Attendance: 16,547 (1,332)

Reading: Bond, Gunter, McShane, Norwood, Robson-Kanu (Blackman 69), Sa, Obita, Ferdinand, Tshibola (Cox 69), Quinn (Fernandez 86), Williams

Subs not used: Taylor, Hector, Al Habsi, Stacey

MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, McFadzean, Kay, Spence, Potter, Poyet, Bowditch, Hall (Baker 73), Carruthers (Powell 60), Church (Gallagher 67)

Subs not used: Hodson, Upson, Cropper, Murphy

Booked: Tshibola, Poyet, McFadzean, Baker