Opposition View - Reading v Stoke

By Rob Stanway - www.StokeCity-MAD.co.uk

Like Reading, Stoke have suffered from a recent slip in form. Although we beat Millwall last Saturday, City hadn't recorded a win since September 14th, despite making a bright start to the season.

Our away form has also been particularly poor of late, we've recorded only one win in our last six away games. However, when you realise that we have drawn three times on the road, it makes for a half decent away record at least.

Reading has never been a place where Stoke have picked up points. Our last win away at Reading was in November 1998, in the FA Cup! Indeed, you have to look right back to December 1992 for our last league win in Berkshire!

However, history really won't come into the game this weekend. With Reading suffering several injuries, Stoke will be looking to battle their way to 3 points to avoid slipping below their current 10th position.

Clint Hill will be missing from Stoke's starting line-up this weekend through he iniury. He had to leave the field against Wigan in midweek after 26 minutes with a back problem.

Our other two injury doubts are Marcus Hall and John Halls, our left and right backs.

City have signed a new defender on loan from Leeds to help out whilst we shop around for a permanent centre-back. Michael Duberry has made a significant contribution to our defence since coming in.

He plays alongside Taggart and Thomas, making the Stoke City defence something of a tough nut to crack at the moment, we have been very solid indeed this season.

Seven clean sheets from the 17 games played so far this season doesn't sound to good on paper, yet only Wigan, Sunderland, Millwall and Leeds have conceded less than Stoke in the league this season.

In the midfield we are looking pretty good too. Despite missing John Eustace, Dave Brammer and Darrell Russell are doing a great job in the centre of the park. Karl Henry and ex-Reading man Carl Asaba are our regular wingers.

Up front Ade Akinbiyi has struggled to find the net in recent weeks. He is currently looking to end a goal drought having startied the season with 5 goals in 10 games.

Partnering him up front this weekend will be either Gifton Noel-Williams - who has put away just 2 this season - or Chris Greenacre whose recent goal against Millwall earnt him a rare first team start on Tuesday against Wigan. Chris certainly knows how to hit the target and will get efforts in.

But I think former Leicester forward Ade Akinbiyi is the player that Reading fans should look out for. Goal drought or not, Ade can cause problems for any defence. His pace and power are major assets, and given the right chance he could find the net as well.

My prediction for this Saturday is a cheeky 1-0 victory for the mighty Potters. We may well catch you off guard!