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Tom Ince & Benik Afobe

STOKE CITY had to settle for a point from their trip to Reading after conceding a stoppage time equaliser.

The Potters had looked to be on course for a second successive 2-1 win thanks to goals from Benik Afobe and Tom Ince.

But Reading, who had taken a first half lead through Marc McNulty, had the last laugh and substitute Mo Barrow levelled matters in the fourth minute of added time at the Madejski Stadium.

Ince appeared to have the won the game for City with a spectacular volley that will surely be a contender for Goal of the Season but Barrow had other ideas.

Gary Rowett made three changes to his starting line-up with James McClean, Afobe and Bruno Martins Indi returning at the expense of Peter Etebo, Saido Berahino and Ashley Williams respectively.

Former Reading loanee Afobe squandered a golden opportunity to give the Potters a dream start as he headed wide from little more than six yards out with just four minutes on the clock after excellent approach play involving McClean, Sam Clucas and Joe Allen.

Clucas, who had opened his City goal-scoring account in the midweek win over Derby County, wasted an opportunity to double his tally as he side-footed high over the bar in the 10th minute after home goalkeeper Anssi Jaakola had denied Afobe.

With the Potters dominating possession, Tom Ince worked an opening on the edge of the Reading area but only succeeded in firing straight at Jaakola.

But it was Reading who, against the run of play, edged in front shortly before half-time. Andy Rinomhota’s looping cross from the right found Marc McNulty who headed emphatically past Jack Butland for his first goal for the club.

That was a bitter pill for Rowett’s men to swallow and they were cursing their luck again before the break when Afobe had appeals for a penalty waved away.

The striker took a tumble in the six-yard box as he attempted to get on the end of Allen’s cross from the left but referee David Coote was unmoved.

Afobe had the last laugh though as he fired the Potters level after just three minutes of the second half with his sixth goal of the season – and his first in 10 games – as he calmly fired past Jaakola after being sent clear by Clucas’ through ball.

Allen went close as he fired narrowly wide of the target after a well-worked move, while Afobe had a shot deflected over the bar as City piled on the pressure.

That pressure paid dividends in the 69th minute as Ince made the most of the opportunity to light up a drab afternoon in Berkshire. McClean did well to keep the ball in on the left and when he sent over a teasing cross Ince unleashed a spectacular volley that was worthy of settling any game.

Butland made an outstanding late save to deny substitute Yakou Meite but he was powerless to prevent Barrow making it 2-2 as he found the bottom left hand corner of the City net.

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