STOKE CITY’S Elite Development side were denied their first point in Group Two of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League after a controversial 91st minute penalty gave Reading a 1-0 victory at Clayton Wood Training Ground on Monday evening.
The Potters were unfortunate to lose an uneventful match in which neither side did enough to deserve all three points. But Gozie Ugwu's stoppage time penalty settled an otherwise even contest and extended the Royals' lead at the top of the table, while Stoke have now lost all five of their games played in the second half of the season.
Perhaps even more worrying for Dave Kevan's men is that a Stoke City player is yet to score in Group Two of the League, with a Derek Boyata own goal against Manchester City the only time his side have registered a goal.
The Potters fielded a strong line-up that included first-team squad members Jamie Ness and Florent Cuvelier, while James Campbell and Marcel Barrington were also recalled to the starting eleven.
It was the home side who had the first chance of the game when Jordan Keane out jumped his marker from a corner, but could only direct his header straight at the Reading ‘keeper.
That was the only chance in a scrappy opening 20 minutes, but Reading went close to opening the scoring soon after when Ben Heneghan conceded a free-kick just outside the box.
Lawson D'ath stepped up and his shot was goalbound until Potters 'keeper Daniel Bachmann got the slightest of touches to push the ball against the post and out of danger.
Ugwu received a yellow card for an unnecessary high challenge on Bachmann before Matthew Partridge somehow fired over from just six-yards out. Cuvelier, back at Stoke following a recent loan spell with League One Walsall, tried his luck with a long range free-kick, but his effort flew over the bar at the end of an uninspiring first-half.
Former Rangers midfielder, Ness, went close after the restart with a drive that went just wide of the post, before D'ath fired straight at Bachmann from distance.
Andy Musungu then missed a good opportunity for Stoke after cutting in from the left wing only to shoot wide, and the home side were made to pay for their missed chances one minute into stoppage time.
Dominic Samuel showed great skill to get into the box and went down under a challenge from George Rigg, although the midfielder did appear to go down easily. Ugwu stayed calm under pressure and sent Bachmann the wrong way from the spot to condemn the unlucky Potters to an undeserved defeat, their fifth in as many games.
Stoke: Bachmann; Rigg, Heneghan, Keane, Campbell; Ness, Marsden (Thomas, 59), Cuvelier, Richardson (Dawson, 17), Musungu; Barrington (Hall, 74).