Steve Bruce’s first home game in charge of Sheffield Wednesday ended in a 0-0 stalemate with Reading.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between but the Owls certainly shaded proceedings and had a number of opportunities in the first-half.
They came up against a robust Reading side who have now registered four clean-sheets in their last eight games as they attempt to pull themselves clear of the drop-zone.
Adam Reach could’ve sealed all three points but he fired over an effort from inside the six-yard box over deep into injury time.
Bruce admitted in the pre-match build up that his squad is simply too overcrowded, but that didn’t stop him from naming his three new signings on the bench, with Lucas Joao also forced to sit among the substitutes.
It was Joao who secured Bruce’s first win as Owls manager – away to Ipswich in the final minute – last time out, and the only change to that line-up was Jordan Thorniley’s introduction with Tom Lees an enforced change.
Bruce was introduced to the Hillsborough faithful to rapturous applause and his side almost got off to a dream start when George Boyd’s stinging effort had to be palmed away by Emi Martinez in the Royals’ net.
The glaring sun proved too much for Fernando Forestieri as the frontman was dispossessed on the edge of his own box, allowing Liam Moore a chance to fire an acrobatic effort towards goal. The skipper’s volley took a slight deflection on its way towards Kieren Westwood who did well to readjust his feet and tip wide of his near post.
The chance of the game so far came on the half hour mark when Adam Reach was played through by Barry Bannan, but the cross along the face of goal eluded the blue and white shirts as Reading hacked clear. All it begged for was a touch and, on the balance of play, was what the Owls deserved.
Reading looked shaky and could easily have gone behind moments later when Steven Fletcher brought the ball down in the box. The striker was in acres of space after peeling away from the Royals’ defence, but his curled effort lacked any real power and was stopped well by Martinez.
It was Wednesday’s turn to show a sense of vulnerability as Westwood was beaten to the ball by Modou Barrow, but the Reading attacker took the ball too wide with Westwood spreading himself well to block the effort.
As the half drew to a close, Wednesday should have edged in front again. Forestieri wriggled his way to the by-line after a fierce cross in from Reach, but as Hutchinson took a touch before firing an effort from close-range, Martinez got across to bat it away from danger.
Bruce swung around in frustration. It was the chance they’d been waiting for.
The start to the second-half was tame but Lewis Baker almost caught Westwood off guard with a dipping effort that had to be tipped over at full stretch.
Wednesday’s chief looked to the bench for some inspiration, bringing on new signing Rolando Aarons – on-loan from Newcastle – for Boyd as the Owls looked for that little bit more pace on the flanks.
The change almost paid off as the Jamaican winger dazzled the Royals’ defence, but when the ball was deflected into the path of Fletcher the front man couldn’t sort his feet out quick enough and the attack was stopped cold.
Morgan Fox’s calamitous back-pass almost gifted Reading a winner ten minutes from time, but Westwood was quick off his line to thwart Yakou Meite’s close-range strike.
Reach put the ball over from inside the six-yard box deep in injury time, and it will be clear from this that there’s a fair bit of work for Bruce over the coming months, starting with a bit of sharpness and creativity in the final third. A third league clean-sheet in a row, though, will be cause for a slither of optimism.
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Palmer, Thorniley, Hector, Fox; Bannan (C), Hutchinson; Boyd (Aarons, 65’); Reach; Forestieri (Joao, 75’), Fletcher (Nuhiu, 86’). Subs not used: Dawson, Pelupessy, Iorfa, Lazaar.
Reading: Martinez, Yiadom, Miazga, Moore (C), Blackett, Rinomhota, Swift, McCleary (Meite, 60’), Baker (Harriott, 73’), Barrow, Aluko (Bodvarsson, 79’). Subs not used: Walker, McShane, Richards, Kelly.
Referee: Mr. John Brooks
Bookings: Sheffield Wednesday: None
Scorers: Sheffield Wednesday: None
Attendance: 23, 412
Man of the Match: Adam Reach (Sheffield Wednesday)