West Brom seal Championship play-off spot despite Reading stalemate
West Brom cemented their place in the Championship play-offs despite being held to a goalless draw by lowly Reading.
In a first half of few chances, Albion enjoyed the better of it but Hal Robson-Kanu and Jacob Murphy were denied by home goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
Reading, still mathematically in the relegation mix, dominated much of the second period but found visiting stopper Sam Johnstone in fine form.
West Brom began the day six points off an automatic promotion slot but with a 10-point cushion to seventh-placed Bristol City in the play-off race.
Reading were unbeaten in three games and sat five points clear of the last relegation spot, occupied by Rotherham United.
West Brom opened cautiously in the bright sunshine but were unable to build on promising approach play.
Reading were dealt a double blow early on, with strikers Nelson Oliveira and Yakou Meite both having to be replaced due to injury.
Oliveira, on loan from Norwich, looked to have suffered a recurrence of a hamstring problem and left the action after just six minutes.
Top scorer Meite, who appeared to have a knee issue, tried to struggle on after treatment but departed seven minutes later.
West Brom failed to take advantage of Reading’s predicament and it was the home side who forced the pace.
Substitutes Danny Loader and Garath McCleary combined well up front, with the latter twice having shots blocked as he cut in from the right flank.
West Brom were gifted a half-chance when Ovie Ejaria’s intended backpass seemed to be falling short of Martinez.
But Martinez raced out to clear the danger as Robson-Kanu – the former Reading winger – prepared to pounce.
Martinez was called on soon after to make smart saves to keep out efforts from Robson-Kanu and Murphy.
In response, Ejaria fired across the face of the Albion goal after a clever Reading move.
The hosts started positively in the second period, with Loader finding space on the edge of the Albion area.
The 18-year-old found the target with a fierce rising drive but Johnstone produced a superb finger-tip save.
Albion responded immediately but Robson-Kanu headed weakly wide when finding himself unmarked in the home area.
Rakeem Harper then crashed a 20-yard attempt against the crossbar, with Martinez looking on helplessly.
As the end-to-end action continued, Reading were next to threaten.
But Ejaria miscued a volley straight at Johnstone and then Loader did the same with a stooping header from an Andy Yiadom cross.
Reading kept up the pressure in the closing stages, with Johnstone again having to be at his best to tip over a well-struck Lewis Baker free-kick as the spoils were shared.