The Potters were on top for most of the match -- they even had 58 percent of the possession, according to ESPN -- and it took some fantastic goalkeeping from Adam Federici and quite a lot of luck to hold them out for as long as they did. Both Peter Crouch and Robert Huth might have given Stoke the lead in the first half, with the former producing an acrobatic half volley which had to be tipped away at full stretch and the latter looking utterly befuddled to see his goalbound effort deflected just wide for a corner.
It was Huth who ended up giving the hosts a deserved lead, powering a 67th minute Glen Whelan corner in off the underside of the crossbar. Then Cameron Jerome struck, turning superbly and smashing past Federici at the near post to give Stoke a 2-0 lead with ten minutes left.
But the Royals have had an interesting habit of recovering late two-goal leads, and Mariappa copied Huth's feat in heading in from a corner just three minutes after Jerome's goal. With Reading's players flooding forward, it looked at times as though they'd recover yet another improbable point, but Stoke just about held out for the victory.