READING FC were held to their first goalless draw of the season after a tense battle with Sheffield Wednesday.

Royals created plenty of opportunities against the stubborn Owls but lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

Boss Jaap Stam will point to a number of positives from his side’s performance, particular some of their build-up play in the first half.

And a first clean sheet in 13 Championship matches was also a bonus for the Reading manager and a step in the right direction as they climbed one place to 18th in the table.

But with no victories from their last three matches after a second draw in a row many fans were left demanding more as the boos rang out at the final whistle.

Stam made four changes from the side that drew 2-2 at Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday and went with a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Vito Mannone reclaimed his place between the sticks from Anssi Jaakkola after missing Tuesday’s clash for personal reasons and Joey van den Berg was recalled after serving a one-match ban.

Yann Kermorgant also came back into the starting line-up after picking up a knock against Wolves a week earlier and fit-again Liam Kelly replaced the injured John Swift.

Tyler Blackett and Roy Beerens were relegated to the bench, while Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was also named among the subs.

Royals bossed the opening exchanges and went close in the sixth minute when Chris Gunter’s dangerous cross found its way to the back post, but Sone Aluko could only scuff his shot wide.

Aloko threatened again six minutes later, cutting in from the right before hitting a low drive with his left that lacked the power to beat Keiren Westwood.

Mo Barrow also offered Royals an outlet on the left, the ex-Swansea winger eager to use his pace and run at the Owls defence at every opportunity.

One such attack forced the visitors to concede three successive corners, the last of which saw Liam Moore head narrowly over from Kelly’s accurate delivery.

Then Owls centre-back Glenn Loovens took a yellow card for deliberately blocking Barrow’s run on the half-way line.

Reading Chronicle:

Leandro Bacuna takes on the Owls.

Wednesday responded with a decent spell, without really troubling Mannone.

And Stam’s men almost broke the deadlock on 34 minutes when Paul McShane was inches away from connecting with Kelly’s flag-kick with the goal at his mercy.

Royals remained on the front foot as more and more quality deliveries arrived in the Wednesday area but generally came to nothing.

Stam’s men went close again just before the break when Van den  Berg slammed a skidding effort just wide from all of 25 yards.

The in forst-half injury time another excellent Gunter cross was cleared only as far as Aluko whose snap-shot was blocked by Loovens.

Royals managed to recycle the ball before Moore picked out Edwards on the penalty spot, but the midfielder’s volley flew harmlessly wide.

Stam’s men found themselves under pressure after the restart as Wednesday blew a gilt-edged chance to take the lead two minutes into the second half.

Joost Van Aken hammered a free-kick against the Reading wall and, when the ball was chipped back into the box, it fell to Lucas Joao in acres of space.

But the Owls frontman took too long to adjust his feet and fired tamely into Mannone’s arms from six yards.

The moment later Joao went close again when he headed wide from a right-wing cross.

Royals survived that scare and hit back with two decent chances of their own, Aluko curling one a foot wide from Kelly’s lay-off before Leandro Bacuna cut in from the right and blazed over from 20 yards.

But Stam’s men lacked the same level of penetration they had found in the first period as clear-cut chances began to dry up.

Even so, Royals remained organised in defence, with McShane mopping up brilliantly on one occasion with Wednesday sub Gary Hooper bearing down.

Then with nine minutes to go Royals nearly broke the deadlock as Bacuna allowed Bodvarsson’s pass to roll to Barrow who lifted a first-time shot miles over Westwood’s bar when he should have done better.

But the Owls almost nicked it in the 88th minute when substitute and long-term Royals target Jordan Rhodes connected with Adam Reach’s cross, but saw his glancing header bounce agonisingly wide of the far post with Mannone beaten.

Reading return to Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night when they host Barnsley (8pm).

Reading FC: Mannone, Gunter, McShane (c), Moore, Van den Berg, Bacuna, Edwards, Kelly (Clement 78), Aluko, Barrow (Beerens 88), Kermorgant (Bodvarsson 72). Subs not used: Jaakkola, Ilori, Blackett, Richards.

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Jones, Van Aken, Lee, Fox, Fletcher (Rhodes 82), Bannan, Loovens (c), Palmer, Joao (Hooper 60), Reach. Subs not used: Wildsmith, Hunt, Butterfield, Nuhiu, Venancio. Booked: Loovens 23.

Referee: David Coote.

Attendance: 18,382 (Sheff Wed 3,055).