Adam Le Fondre scored a late penalty as Reading marked their Premier League return after a four-season absence with a battling draw against Stoke.

Le Fondre calmly found the corner after Dean Whitehead was given a second yellow card for a foul on substitute Garath McCleary.

Royals keeper Adam Federici had gifted Stoke the lead when he made a terrible mess of a Michael Kightly shot.

Top-flight return phenomenal - McDermott

Reading's Ian Harte nearly stole the points but his free-kick went over.

A home winner would have been cruel on Stoke who were the better side for much of the game, but the Royals will feel they deserved a draw for a frantic finale that saw them pile forward in the last 10 minutes.

The most relieved man on the pitch was Federici, who somehow allowed Kightly's mis-kicked first-half shot to trickle through his stooping attempted save at the near-post.

For summer-signing Kightly it was a wonderful moment after two injury-blighted seasons.

But the normally reliable Federici, who kept 20 clean sheets for the Championship winners last season, will know it was his horrendous howler that almost ruined Reading's top-flight return.

With testing games at Chelsea and Sunderland next for Reading, the visit of a Stoke side who struggled at the end of the last campaign, and whose summer transfer activity had been limited, offered them a decent chance to get their season off to a winning start.

But the Potters showed just why they have become the benchmark for newly promoted teams with a solid, professional display.

Reading had the better of a cagey opening 25 minutes in which they edged both possession and territory, but they barely threatened the Stoke goal until the latter stages.

Shot-shy

Reading scored the fewest goals of any team in the top five in the Championship last season, notching just 69, while Stoke had the lowest-ranked attack of any Premier League team, scoring just 36 goals in 38 games.

Stoke defender Robert Huth, who played despite spending most of last week in hospital with viral meningitis, had a couple of nervy moments but both he and his team soon settled.

Maybe the visitors were even more mindful of the need to pick up early-season points with Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United to play in five of their next six games.

Huth and his fellow Stoke defenders kept Reading's big summer signing Pavel Pogrebnyak quiet, and the home side's only attempts on goal before the break saw Kaspars Gorkss send a header well wide and Le Fondre fail to connect with a teasing cross.

Visiting striker Jonathan Walters provided Stoke's greatest threat throughout and almost opened the scoring with a clever near-post header that went narrowly wide from a Kightly free-kick.

Kightly's strike then put Stoke in control and they started to get on top, creating several chances but nothing clearcut.

ANALYSIS

Tony Pulis saw his Stoke City side drop two points at the death, but Reading's Brian McDermott will have felt his side did enough to secure something on their return to the Premier League. Adam Le Fondre held his nerve from the penalty spot after Adam Federici's earlier error had given Stoke the lead. Reading kept on going until the end and have a point to show for their efforts.

But Reading, cheered on by wealthy new owner Anton Zingarevich, persevered and were lifted by the introduction of substitutes Noel Hunt and McCleary.

And they were rewarded for an energetic end to a match played in scorching heat when Le Fondre slotted his 89th-minute spot-kick past Asmir Begovic.

Reading manager Brian McDermott:

"Psychologically, it's important we got that result. We know we can compete and we've done that. There's no doubt about that so it's important to get a result and we have.

"We'd have been disappointed to have lost the game over the 90 minutes. Those of you who have seen Reading play over the last three years know that they keep going.

"We all make errors. I make errors most days. Adam Federici is a great character, who works really, really hard each and every day. He's a top professional and he's saved us many, many times, and he will do in the future.

"He was upset but that's part of life. You have to overcome your disappointments quickly and he'll do that."

Stoke stalemate disappoints Pulis

Stoke manager Tony Pulis:

"We are disappointed because we had opportunities to get another goal.

"It is always difficult coming to a newly promoted side but it was solid performance.

"It's lovely for Michael Kightly, and Robert Huth was excellent - I don't know what they feed them in Germany.

"His recovery was amazing. He has trained all week and was brilliant today. We're very, very pleased to have him back and he's got a heart the size of a lion."

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