READING FC kept their second clean sheet of the season after a 0-0 stalemate at Wigan Athletic.

A first shut-out for two months, a first away from home and a Championship debut for teenage substitute Danny Loader were among the highlights for the Royals, who are now unbeaten in three matches.

There was more goalmouth action than the scoreline suggests as Yakou Meite hit the woodwork for the visitors in the first half.

However, Wigan, who had lost their four previous matches, also saw a Nick Powell header ruled out for offside, while Reading’s Anssi Jaakkola was the busier keeper, especially in the opening period.

Nevertheless, Clement’s focus has been on tightening up his defence and from that perspective it was step in the right direction ahead of a daunting trip to Leeds United in three days’ time.

Clement made four changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Ipswich Town before the international break.

With Mo Barrow struck down with sickness, Sone Aluko returned while Wales record-breaker Chris Gunter got the nod ahead of Andy Yiadom.

Garath McCleary and John Swift were also recalled, so Leandro Bacuna dropped to the bench and Sam Baldock missed out altogether.

With Jon Dadi Bodvarsson still a couple of weeks away, Meite continued up front as he looked to continue his hot streak.

In another boost for the Academy, 18-year-old striker Loader was named among the subs, but there was no place for 17-year-old Conor Lawless who travelled with the team for the first time.

Reading Chronicle:

Yakou Meite hit the woodwork for Reading.

Royals were under the cosh early on and survived a scare on three minutes when Dan Burn diverted a free kick an inch wide of Jaakkola’s post.

Gunter then had to be alert to snuff out the danger as the pacey Gary Roberts chased a threatening through-ball.

Wigan remained on top and saw Cedric Kipre fail to direct Powell’s flick on target on the quarter of an hour mark.

Six minutes later Jaakkola was at his best when tipping over a thunderous effort from Powell.

But Royals benefitted from a major let-off when Wigan put the ball in the net from the resulting flag-kick.

Unfortunately for the hosts, Reece James was caught offside from the initial short corner before Powell headed home at the near post.

The scare must have woken Reading up as they almost took the lead themselves in the 26th minute.

McCleary found Meite with a delightful pass, but the Frenchman’s left-footed shot struck the Latics woodwork.

It led to a decent spell of possession for Clement’s men, but they soon found themselves back under pressure.

The visitors were relieved when Kipre couldn’t turn in a Burns nod-back from a James free-kick on 34 minutes.

Two minutes later Reading’s defence was pulled apart as Nathan Byrne headed narrowly wide from a Kal Naismith cross.

Three minutes after that Jaakkola came to Reading’s rescue with a stunning reaction save to deny Joshua Windass.

Royals managed to reach half time on level terms which appeared an unlikely prospect moments earlier.

But they were lucky to escape just six minutes after the restart when Jaakkola denied Roberts before Windass put the rebound wide from no more than eight yards.

To add to the home side’s frustration, Roberts then got booked for diving in the box with Wigan looking for a penalty.

Royals hit back as a Swift free-kick from 30 yards sailed over the crossbar on the hour.

Two minutes later Meite collected Swift’s pass and brought the best out of Latics keeper Christian Walton, who made a crucial save.

Clement turned to his bench for inspiration and sent on Loader for his Championship debut midway through the second half and with the game still finely in the balance.

Wigan regained the initiative with Darron Gibson smacking one narrowly wide, much to Jaakkola’s relief.

But a subsequent flurry of substitutions only disrupted the flow in the closing stages.

There was another major scare for the visitors three minutes before the end.

A James corner caused havoc in the Reading box before Joe Garner’s effort from close-range was somehow scrambled off the line.

But moments later Reading went close at the other end as Naismith’s block on the edge of the box diverted Loader’s shot over the bar.

It would have been a fairytale ending ad Loader found the back of the net and Reading had snatched all three points.

But a clean sheet away from home is a small step of progress for Clement’s side, who remain 20th in the table and still above the relegation zone by virtue of goal difference.

Reading will stay in the north to prepare for Tuesday night’s clash at Leeds, who moved up to second with a 2-0 win over Bristol City at Elland Road this afternoon.

Wigan Athletic: Walton, James, Kipre, Burn, Naismith, Byrne, Gibson (Connolly 84), Morsy, Roberts (Grigg 71), Powell (Garner 64), Windass. Subs not used: Jones, Vaughan, McManaman, Evans. Booked: Roberts 53, Powell 59, Garner 90+3.

Reading FC: Jaakkola, Gunter, O'Shea, Moore, Blackett, Swift, Kelly, Rinomhota, McCleary (Sims 74), Meite (McNulty 78), Aluko (Loader 67). Subs not used: Walker, Yiadom, Bacuna, Ilori. Booked: Gunter 33.

Referee: Oliver Langford.

Attendance: 9,211.