Adam Le Fondre returned to his old hunting ground to earn Bolton Wanderers a point after coming from behind against Reading at the Madjeski Stadium.
In truth the visitors can count themselves unlucky not to have claimed all three points as they dominated possession and proceedings against the lacklustre Royals.
Mo Barrow scored against the run of play to put the hosts in the driving seat but Le Fondre, who was a constant thorn in the side of his former club, equalised on the stroke of half time.
A new look Wanderers controlled play but were unable to force home what would have been a deserved winner.
Jan Kirchhoff and Jon Flanagan were handed their first starts in Wanderers colours as manager Phil Parkinson rang the changes for the Sky Bet Championship clash against Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Only four players retained their starting roles from the weekend’s defeat against Preston with Andrew Taylor, Adam Le Fondre, Will Buckley, Karl Henry and Reece Burke joining the two debutants.
Henry, returned from a two-game suspension to bolster the midfield alongside captain Darren Pratley. There was no place in the squad for David Wheater, Sammy Ameobi, Josh Vela and Tyler Walker who all featured in Wanderers’ previous match.
The visitors opened the game in a positive manner earning an early corner after some good work on the right hand side by Filipe Morais.
In fact, Wanderers had the majority of possession during the opening exchanges with play largely centred in Reading’s third of the pitch.
A slip in the box from 17 year-old debutant Tom Holmes give Adam Le Fondre a double chance but his strikes were cleared much to the relief of the youngster.
The play shifted to the other end of the park and a misplaced pass from Morais almost let in Chris Martin whose effort landed on the roof of the Wanderers net.
That opening seemed to spark the Royals into life and they won a free kick on the edge of the box after Pratley tripped up Liam Kelly. Aluko took the free-kick but blazed high and wide over the bar.
A stunning save from Annssi Jaakkola kept out Le Fondre whose powerful drive seemed destined for the top corner but for the fingertips of the goalkeeper.
Yet another mistake from the Reading midfield let in Le Fondre who charged on goal with only the keeper to beat; however, his left footed strike went over the bar.
However, it was the Royals who took the lead through Mo Barrow who cantered down the right hand side shrugging off a couple of challenges to shoot past Alnwick from a tight angle.
Wanderers had another golden chance to get on the scoresheer just before the break but Buckley hesitated near the penalty spot to allow a Reading defender to clear for a corner.
But the miss mattered not for less than 60 seconds later Le Fondre atoned for his earlier misses to bundle the ball home after beating his marker to get to Morais’ cross on the cusp of half time.
The visitors, who were backed by a vociferous travelling support of 484 fans, earned an early corner after the restart which Morais pumped into the box. Although Jaakola got a flailing fist to it the Royals struggled to get rid of the ball which left Wanderers on the front foot for a while, eventually earning another corner.
Alnwick made a brave save – taking a full blooded knock to the chest – to prevent Barrow from charging down on goal.
A good passage of play, with some fluid passing, saw Taylor enjoy a chance from distance. His right-footed volley wasn’t that far away either!
Wanderers were again taking control of the match thanks to their powerhouse midfield which was superbly marshalled by Kirchhoff.
Parkinson made his first change with Noone coming on for Morais after 66 minutes.
Four minutes later and Karacan replaced the impressive Kirchhoff.
Le Fondre with his back to goal swung around and wasn’t too far away from testing Jaakkola.
Wanderers made their final change with ten minutes remaining when Buckley made way for Wilbraham.
The changes saw Wanderers gather the initiative once again and they won a series of corners to turn up the heat on Reading as they strove for a winner.
Alnwick was pressed into making a routine save from substitute John Swift as the hosts had a rare foray into the Wanderers half.
Noone had a strike on goal after Beevers broke in the final third but the sub hit his shot straight at Jaakkola.
A late surge from Reading saw them win a corner in the dying embers of the game but the Wanderers defence held firm.
Sadly, that elusive goal didn’t come and Wanderers had to settle for the point. However, their performance was immeasurably better than Saturday’s contest against Preston and with Sheffield Wednesday on their travels at the weekend, Parkinson will be hoping for more of the same.