JAAP Stam believes Reading FC showed 'promising' signs after standing up to Bolton's physical approach in last night's scrap for survival.

Both sides increased their lead over the Championship's relegation zone to five points after a hard-fought draw at Madejski Stadium.

It was a night for surprises as Stam made six changes and his opposite number and ex-Royals captain Phil Parkinson seven.

Mo Barrow gave new-look Royals a 32nd minute lead only for former Reading striker Adam Le Fonde to equalise moments before the break.

Neither side could snatch a winner meaning Reading have not won in the league in 15 matches.

But Stam declared: "It's a very important point. During this period we're in, to get something out of every game is important. Of course, you want to win every game, but it didn't happen today.

"Today wasn't my type of football in how I want to play. It was only long balls and fighting for that first or second one then going for it.

"But sometimes you need to get stuck in, especially when you're in our situation so that you get something out of the game, which is promising."

Stam was far from impressed with the performance of referee James Linington after suggesting the Trotters were 'looking for fouls,' adding; "he let a lot of things go".

But he also stressed: "I think 1-1 is a fair result. Bolton pushed on looked for free-kicks and it's difficult to play against a team like that, we've had it several times already.

"Their midfield players were right on top of us and most teams have more physicality in their squad than us. It makes it difficult to get out of it, so you need to fight very hard and at least get a point."

Stam changed more than half of the team that lost 3-1 at home to Sheffield United, some of it enforced, some of it tactical, including a debut for 17-year-old defender, Tom Holmes, who got the nod ahead of Tiago Ilori and Tyler Blackett.

Anssi Jaakkola replaced Vito Mannone in goal, while George Evans, Dave Edwards, Sone Aluko and Barrow all returned.

Garath McCleary, with a broken ankle that will force him to miss the rest of the season, and Omar Richards, with a torn calf muscle, are the latest players to join the injury list.

"I think we needed to make a lot of changes," asserted Stam. "We have spoken before about we have conceded too many goals, easy goals as well.

"Sometimes you need to give other players who are doing well an opportunity to play."

But he defended his decision to throw Holmes into such a pressurised game, saying: "You can say it's a big call and if it had gone wrong people would ask why did it.

"You could say it's a brave decision, but that's how it works in football.

"The way we think about football is to educate the youth players to bring into the first team.

"It doesn't matter if he is 17 or 25, if the others aren't performing or doing what they need to do, a younger guy who is performing and doing well in training gets the chance to play.

"Yes, at the moment these are all big games, but that's how it is.

"We told him to enjoy it and that he deserved it. If I didn't have confidence in the player I wouldn't play him.

"What he brought to the game shows he can fill in that position, he's an extra choice for us."

Reading host Leeds this Saturday (3pm ko).