Steve Cooper cut a frustrated figure as Swansea were held to a 0-0 draw by a resilient defensive performance by Reading in the final Championship match of 2020.
Both sides made a solitary change to their weekend starting lineups. Michael Olise returned to Reading front four in place of Sone Aluko, whilst Korey Smith replaced Yan Dhanda for the hosts.
The first 15 minutes were very quiet as Swansea looked to dominate possession and Reading were happy to let them have the ball in safe areas, occasionally offering a low-intensity press with a focus on defensive organisation.
As Andre Ayew became increasingly involved, Swansea were able to open Reading up. Ayew showed real strength held the ball up in the Reading box before laying off to Bidwell. The delivery came in from the left and was met acrobatically by an overhead kick from Ayew that flashed over the Reading bar.
Reading looked to cause some problems of their own shortly afterwards. A well-worked free-kick routine between Ejaria and Olise found McIntyre in the box, but his strike was well saved by Woodman.
Opportunities were to continue to flow for Swansea and on the half-hour mark, Ayew forced a good save from Rafael as he rose highest to meet a Roberts delivery.
Swansea’s deliveries were causing Reading real problems, and a delightful corner from the Swansea right created their biggest opportunity of the game as it was knocked down to Guehi. From eight yards out, however, the Swans’ centre back could only fire over the bar in a major let-off for the Royals.
Ayew was continuing to look a threat as the game approached half-time, and when he drove into the box on 40 minutes trouble looked likely. His shot took a couple of deflections and looped up nicely for Rafael to make a comfortable gather.
The half-time whistle came shortly after a speculative free-kick attempt from Sam Baldock which was well smothered by Woodman. The visitors were definitely in need of the break, after a relentless 15 minutes of Swansea attacks.
The second half continued much like the first and after Latibeaudiere replaced Bennett he almost instantly found himself on the scoresheet. He got up well to meet the delivery from the Swansea left and headed low between Rafael and the right-hand post. However, the Brazillian stopper got down well and the ball was smuggled clear.
Ayew continued to be the main danger from the hosts, who continued to put deliveries at will into the Reading box, and on 70 minutes Rafael was again called into action as Ayew beat Holmes to another Roberts delivery. Rafael pulled off a superb reaction save to his right to further frustrate the Swans.
Reading had created little all game but had a strong spell of possession with ten minutes left on the clock. Swift grew into the game and found the onrushing McIntyre who decided to shoot narrowly over from 25 yards when he might have found the returning Omar Richards in a good position on the left.
The young Scot clearly had a taste for shooting having scored his first professional goal against Luton on Boxing Day and could have snatched the win for the visitors as he met an Olise corner only to have his header tipped over by Woodman.
That was to be the last action of the game and Swansea became increasingly desperate to pump long balls into the box as time ran out, posing no real problems for Morrison and Holmes.
Swansea were clearly frustrated to have not come away with all three points, evident by Ayew’s post-match interview, but Reading were well-disciplined defensively and will be delighted with a point against the stingiest defence in the league.
Next up for the Royals is a trip to Huddersfield on January 2nd as Swansea host fellow promotion candidates Watford. Both sides can then effectively enjoy a fortnight off with no midweek fixtures and the FA Cup 3rd Round until the following games.