NEW look, and perhaps new impetus in Wanderers’ survival fight – but how they could have done with three points against a team as fragile as Reading.

Adam Le Fondre’s first-half strike was enough to earn a draw, opening up a five-point gap on the bottom three.

But considering the fraught, edgy defending exhibited by the home side throughout, you can’t help but wonder what might have been with more clinical finishing or a better final ball.

Mo Barrow gave the Royals an undeserved lead but the Whites showed enough energy and enterprise to get themselves back into the game just before the break.

They failed to find a second goal but will have won a few more believers in their fight for survival.

Phil Parkinson promised changes, but few would have guessed he would make seven.

Sammy Ameobi was injured but the likes of Josh Vela and David Wheater did not even make the bench as the Bolton boss made a serious style statement.

Jon Flanagan made his first start at right-back as did German midfielder Jan Kirchhoff in front of the back four – and the net result was a Whites team quite unlikely any other we have seen this season.

In fact, Wanderers played more football in the opening 15 minutes of the game than they had in the final 45 against Preston North End – but the new approach was not without its problems.

Morais was guilty of over-playing on the edge of his own box, allowing Sone Aluko to pick out Chris Martin with a chipped pass, his shot mercifully landing on the roof of Ben Alnwick’s net.

It was evident right away that Le Fondre fancied his chances against youngster Tom Moore, making a shock debut in a game of this magnitude. Within the first 10 minutes the wily striker picked the youngster’s pocket on the left, denied only by a good block from Liam Moore in the end.

Springing into life every time the Whites had possession, it seemed the former Madejski Stadium favourite was looking to answer his manager’s pre-match challenge to find a striker who was “un-dropable”.

After one stinging shot had been pushed over the top by Anssi Jaakola, Le Fondre got the kind of opportunity he dreams about. Martin Kelly played a blind back-pass, leaving the Bolton striker through on goal with only the keeper to beat. His shot – way above the crossbar – left the Reading fans chanting his name again.

Reading were beaten in last season’s play-off final after playing Berkshire’s own version of total football, instigated by ex-Manchester United defender Jaap Stam.

It has been anything but successful this time around and we got a glimpse of exactly why in a curious first-half display.

Lurching effortlessly from the sublime to the ridiculous, the Royals were impossible to read.

Aluko oozed class on the ball early on but the home side were otherwise careless in possession, especially at the back.

The sparsely-populated home stands were starting to grumble when, against the run of play, Reading took the lead.

Mo Barrow – once a trialist at Wanderers – ripped through on the left, out-pacing Flanagan, before rolling an angled shot ‘through’ Alnwick to the shock of both sets of supporters.

Will Buckley should have brought his side level with another miss that had to be seen to be believed.

The winger found himself picked out in the penalty box with no-one for company but allowed Dave Edwards to get back at him, forcing the shot wide of the post.

For Wanderers to have gone in at the break a goal down would have been a crime.

Thankfully, Le Fondre got himself and Buckley out of jail.

Pressure had been kept on after the miss, and when Morais whipped another cross in from the left Le Fondre got across his marker to bundle the ball over the line.

There was no celebration – as is the modern way – but there must have been a certain amount of relief as the striker ran back to the half way line.

Reading had looked the more nervous but their pace on the break was unquestionable.

Barrow got through again at the start of the second half and was sent crashing to the floor with a sprawling challenge from Reece Burke which, happily, got just enough of the ball to please referee James Linnington.

At the back, the Royals’ Finnish keeper Anssi Jaakola’s kicking skills resembled Jussi Jaaskelainen circa 1997 and an audible gasp echoed around the ground each time the ball was passed back to him.

That sound was nothing compared with the groans that greeted each failed counter attack – and the comparison at times with a loud and buoyant away following of 484 was quite something.

Burton, Barnsley and Hull had all been defeated – perhaps the only benefit of Reading’s 8pm starts yet the clearcut chances just wouldn’t come.

Le Fondre and Noone both tried their luck from distance but in the end, some frantic defending in front of goal prevented Reading from stealing a winner in injury time which would have been harsh in the extreme.

Parkinson brought on Jem Karacan, another ex-Royals man given a warm welcome, Craig Noone and then, finally, Aaron Wilbraham as his side pushed forward for a winner.