Luton Town 0-0 Reading: Royals promotion chances wear thinner at Kenilworth Road
(Photo by David Rogers via Getty Images)

Reading have only won one of their last eight Championship games now, and an attritional game of football against Luton Town meant that the Royals' promotion bid took a massive hit.

Where the result presented little value to the Hatters, it was a chance for Reading to get back to winning ways. However, their desire ran short of the mark, and they were unable to conjure enough of a threat to trouble Nathan Jones' Luton Town.

Achieving his eleventh clean sheet of the season, Simon Sluga would have enjoyed the unwavering performance he displayed on Wednesday night, watching on as his side looked the most threatening. 

Despite finishing the strongest, Reading were unable to convert, and they now straddle six points adrift of Barnsley, who edged closer to a respectable position in the playoffs after overcoming a resilient Huddersfield Town.

  • The match

After playing out a superb performance against local rivals Watford last time out, Nathan Jones adopted the same starting eleven in midweek. Harry Cornick was the only change in the matchday squad, as he replaced Dion Pereira with the Hatters searching for an elusive third consecutive league win of the season. 

As for Veljko Paunovic, he had hoped to follow suit, but an injury to Lucas Joao meant that George Puscas was brought into the fray for Reading. A disappointing 1-1 draw against Cardiff City on Friday night meant that a win was crucial for the Royals. 

In the early stages, it was the home side who possessed more of the ball. But, perhaps surprisingly, it was Reading who looked visibly hesitant to play their usual attacking football, failing to string a consistent pattern of play.

For all their possession, though, the only chance of note in the first 15 minutes came from an early Ryan Tunnicliffe cross, which was followed by a close-range block from the resulting Elijah Adebayo shot. 

Energetic play from Luton restricted Reading's time on the ball in the first 20 minutes. The home teams midfield ran tirelessly, often leading to poor decision making from the Royals.

The early dominance from Nathan Jones' side would continue to gather pace throughout the entirety of the first half, without carving too many clear-cut chances to reward themselves for their endeavours. 

It was Luton's Jordan Clark who had the clearest opening of the first half.

Naismith whipped an inviting cross into the area, and Clark latched on to it. With just the goalkeeper to beat, from ten yards out, the onrushing attacker opened his body too much and placed the ball over the crossbar. 

Experience percolated through the Hatter's lineup, with many players plying their trade in lower divisions to warrant them Championship status. And, it was this conservative approach and professionalism that sculpted the remaining interventions, as the Hatters hemmed the visitors into their own half. 

Despite the lack of quality chances, Dewsbury-Hall managed to test the Reading goalkeeper just ten minutes before the halftime whistle.

Josh Laurent made a good initial tackle for the Royals, but he lost out the second time to the Luton man, who drove to the edge of the box and launched a left-footed shot to the right of Rafael- the goalkeeper diligently got his hands to it.

Embed from Getty Images

  • Second half

Although Luton would have hoped to continue their comfortable first half and take it into the second, the early exchanges of the restart made way for attritional football.

While neither side showed any sign of creating a moment that would see the breakthrough, Kenilworth Road entered the final third of the match goalless.

Despite this, there were glimpses of a brighter second half for Reading, who found a little bit of intuition by virtue of their shining star Ovie Ejaria. The youngster rode a few challenges and waltzed his way onto the edge of the box, but the attack foreseeably came to nothing.

Reading almost found the breakthrough on the 63rd minute.

It was the former Liverpool player again, Ovie Ejaria. The midfielder embarked on a terrific driving run on the left before cutting inside the area- however, there was no space as the Orange shirts flooded back. The player was apprehended before his shot anyways.  

Kenilworth Road continued to play host to a sluggish affair. While Luton had nothing to play for, as they had already cemented their position in next season's Championship, Reading had everything to fight for.

This, however, did not pan out that way. Reading looked like a defeated team, bound to finish below the playoff places for another season. 

Apathetic and unambitious, Reading's night almost went from bad to worse with 20 minutes to go.

Harry Cornick, the early Luton substitution, knocked the ball past Liam Moore and gallivanted forward. He looked up and noticed he was in acres of space, but his pass into Adebayo had too much power, and Rafael collected comfortably.

Another chance went begging for the Hatters in the final 10 minutes.

George Moncur stole the ball from Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and fired a shot towards the goal from close range. Rafael made a vital parry to keep the score at nil apiece. 

For the rest of the ninety minutes, as the clock ticked excruciatingly slower, neither team accepted the result, with both managers barking orders on the touchline in a last-ditch effort to conjure a winning goal.

Reading had the lions share of the remaining attempts on a night that proved costly to the Royals.

However, Luton exemplified defensive aptitude, and both sets of attacking tridents showed their weaknesses. A game of very few chances came to an end, leaving the entire stadium snoring in discontent. 

VAVEL Logo