READING FC kept their noses above the Championship relegation zone going into the international break with a 0-0 draw at Stoke City.

The stalemate at bet365 Stadium leaves Royals one place above Rotherham United with one more point in 21st position.

With eight fixtures remaining including three against teams in the top six, it looks like Reading’s fight to stay in the division will go down to the wire for the second year running.

Jose Gomes may have been the more grateful manager on Saturday after the Potters struck the woodwork twice in the first half in a game of limited chances.

Royals made three changes to the side that lost at home to Leeds United including a full debut for 17-year-old midfielder Michel Olise. Callum Harriott and Garath McCleary also returned while Mo Barrow, Ryan East and Danny Loader dropping to the bench.

But the visitors rode their luck in their early exchanges as they struggled to adapt to the strong winds.

It almost cost them a goal when Sam Vokes nodded a James McClean cross to Tom Ince whose shot hit the base of the near post.

And the Potters luck was out again soon after when a Vokes headed a Thibauld Verlinden cross against the bar before Liam Moore blocked McClean’s effort from the rebound.

Reading had offered little themselves, though Harriott did test Jack Butland with a decent effort following an Andy Yiadom centre.

Yiadom’s strong run then set up a half chance for Olise who had the ball ten off his toe at the last minute.

The elements had been unkind to the teams all day, and a downpour at the interval made it even tougher.

Royals, now with the wind on their backs, threatened soon after the restart when John Swift’s fierce volley narrowly missed the target.

However, the visitors relied on an outstanding, reflex save from Emi Martinez to preserve parity when the on-loan Arsenal stopper denied McClean after Joe Allen had linked up with Tom Edwards.

A flashpoint followed in the match when Swift clashed with Peter Etebo resulting in a booking for both players.

Ex-Reading loanee Benik Afobe fired straight into Martinez’s arms after Etebo had played him in.

But Royals almost won it at the death when McCleary set up Meite whose effort whistled a yard wide of the post.

Stoke City: Butland, Allen, Ince (Diouf 90+1), Etebo, Vokes (Afobe 70), McClean, Batth, Martins Indi, Shawcross, Edwards, Verlinden (Bojan 80). Subs not used: Federici, Williams, Adam, Woods. Booked: Etebo 73, Batth 77, McClean 90.

Reading: Martinez, Yiadom, Blackett, Moore (c), Miazga, Baker, Swift (Loader 89), Olise (Barrow 62), McCleary, Harriott (Gunter 62), Meite. Subs not used: Walker, O’Shea, McShane, East. Booked: Harriott 44, McCleary 62, Swift 73.

Attendance: 24,368 (669 away).

Referee: Jeremy Simpson.