Having endured an hour's grim mundanity, half an hour's excitement was the least the crowd deserved. That it was all in danger of getting a little too hectic, at least as far as the Stoke element was concerned, was down to Reading's now famed capacity to rescue games that look beyond them, and had the referee, Michael Oliver, decided Adam Le Fondre was fouled by Ryan Shotton in the Stoke penalty area in the final moments of added time, they might have done so again.
Oliver was right to shake his head though, for all the Royals' manager, Brian McDermott, reckoned otherwise, and Stoke deserved to hang on for a first win in seven league games. In their own unsubtle way they had taken the initiative from the start, and if there was nothing special about Robert Huth's opening goal, headed past the Reading goalkeeper, Adam Federici, directly from Glenn Whelan's corner, their second was worthy of the three points all by itself.
The manner in which Cameron Jerome controlled the ball, turned and, in the same movement, volleyed gloriously into the corner of the net was rendered all the more remarkable by the ordinariness of all that had gone before.
But Reading are never beaten. Jimmy Kébé, scorer of the two goals that gave them victory over Sunderland last week, had already squandered one wonderful opportunity with a criminally misplaced final pass, when Adrian Mariappa nodded in a near-post corner to ensure the Stoke faithful had to endure a tortuous final few minutes before victory was confirmed.
McDermott was convinced that Shotton had fouled Le Fondre, although replays suggested it was far from as clear cut as the Reading manager seemed to think. "It was a stonewall penalty, he caught Alfie, but the ref didn't see it that way," McDermott said. "It's part of football. We've had a few. Sometimes as a manager you get those things – with the last kick of the game, it would have been great to get the point.
"I'm disappointed because we hung in the game and showed great resilience and this is not an easy place to come to, as everybody knows, but the lads gave it a right go."
With no game for a fortnight, Reading are off for some warm-weather training, and perhaps a little R&R, in Dubai. Stoke will do their training at home, and in rather better spirits than they might have done after their first win since beating Liverpool on Boxing Day.
"We deserved to win, I'd have been absolutely devastated if we hadn't," said the Stoke manager, Tony Pulis. "The first half we deserved to be coming in leading anyway, but we picked the pace up after the break, the two substitutes, Jerome and Kenwyne Jones, made a great impact, and Cameron scored. He is a great impact player and he scored a great goal. If it was a penalty at the end I'd say thank goodness we had a break, we deserve one."
Stoke, for once playing a traditional 4-4-2, with Jon Walters joining Peter Crouch up front, did create a couple of early chances in an appropriately traditional manner, which is to say crosses aimed at a tall centre-forward.
Unfortunately for them, while Matthew Etherington's delivery was good, Crouch reacted too slowly to get on the end of the first and, though he got on the end of the second, he badly mistimed his header.
Only in the final few minutes of the half, when Stoke finally began to put them under concerted pressure, did Reading start to wobble. Crouch, with one of his trademark sideways scissor-kick volleys, brought a good save from Federici, and a Huth shot was blocked by Stephen Kelly.