Reading - Reading marked their return to the Premier League after a four-year
absence in dramatic fashion as Adam Le Fondre's late penalty rescued a
1-1 draw against Stoke on Saturday.
The Royals looked set to be taught a harsh lesson in the realities of
top-flight football after Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici's howler
gifted Michael Kightly a debut goal for Stoke.
But new signing Garath McCleary came off the bench to turn the game,
winning the penalty that saw Stoke midfielder Dean Whitehead sent off
and allowed striker Le Fondre to stroke home the equaliser.
While Championship winners Reading were relieved to avoid defeat, Royals
boss Brian McDermott may be concerned at the way Stoke dominated before
A succession of niggly Stoke fouls ruined what little flow there was in
the first half and referee Kevin Friend's patience snapped when he
booked Whitehead for tripping Reading new boy Danny Guthrie.
Kaspars Gorkss should have hit the target for Reading with a free header
from Guthrie's corner, but the hosts gifted Stoke the lead in the 34th
The Royals defence failed to clear a routine straight ball, which fell to Kightly, who was given an age to control and shoot.
His strike took a slight nick off Gorkss but not enough to deceive Federici, who allowed it to trickle through his arms.
When Whitehead escaped a red card for felling Pavel Pogrebnyak in full
flight on the edge of the box, it seemed Stoke would cling on.
But moments later McCleary was allowed to advance unchallenged into the area and was upended by Whitehead.
Friend allowed play to continue and fellow substitute Noel Hunt was
denied by Begovic but the referee brought play back, awarding the
penalty and showing Whitehead a second yellow card.
Le Fondre despatched the spot-kick to spark wild celebrations from the home fans.