Royals seal play-off spot

Reading sealed their place in the Championship play-offs with a point from an entertaining 0-0 draw with Coventry at a sun-soaked Ricoh Arena.

Last Updated: 30/04/11 at 17:16 Post Comment

Federici: Impressive on his return to the side

Federici: Impressive on his return to the side

The fifth-placed Royals went into the game knowing a draw would be enough and so it proved, although the goalless scoreline fails to do justice to what was an enjoyable encounter full of openings and well-worked play.

Both sides could well have taken the spoils on an afternoon when goalkeeping brilliance and some wayward finishing dominated over killer instinct in attack.

A bumper crowd of 22,436 watched Shane Long and Noel Hunt fail to convert Reading's clearest openings while impressive Coventry enjoyed even further opportunities, with Lukas Jutkiewicz, David Bell, Marlong King and Richard Keogh all going close.

Brian McDermott's side may have the play-offs and the possibility of Premier League football to look forward to, but the future also appears bright for the Sky Blues under Andy Thorn, who was taking charge of his first match since being appointed permanent manager on Thursday.

Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, offered a latest new contract by Coventry two days ago with his current deal set to expire, was denied what may have been his final appearance in front of the Ricoh Arena faithful by an apparent shoulder injury.

Youngster Michael Quirke stepped in as part of three changes, with striker King - also offered new terms along with soon to be out-of-contract midfielder Aron Gunnarsson - and Chris Hussey returning.

Reading made two switches to their XI, goalkeeper Adam Federici coming in along with Michail Antonio, who was making his first league start for the visitors.

Coventry certainly held the upper hand in the opening exchanges, showing plenty of promise going forward as Jutkiewicz, Gunnarsson and Carl Baker, twice, went close.

But 21-goal leading scorer Long wasted Reading's clearest opening after 16 minutes, taking too long to get the ball under control before blazing high over the bar from 12 yards when he really should have done better.

Quirke was called upon to superbly parry Hunt's header to safety minutes later as the Royals started to fashion some clear-cut openings.

The rookie keeper was being tested more as the first half wore on, with Ian Harte's set-pieces threatening, but action was flowing from end to end with both sides looking dangerous, City striker Jutkiewicz drilling an effort narrowly wide from around 12 yards.

A well-worked City move saw Bell's volley force a great save from Federici after 38 minutes.

And there was still time for Quirke to produce a good block with his legs to deny Antonio, who found himself clean through.

The second period continued to excite from the off, Jutkiewicz's flick rolling just wide.

Yet chances dried up slightly during the third quarter, with Reading failing to trouble Quirke at all.

Sammy Clingan's free-kick forced a solid save from Federici after 72 minutes as City pushed for a winner.

And the Australian keeper then made superb block to deny King, who was subsequently flagged offside, before the striker saw another shot take a deflection and fly narrowly off target.

From the resulting corner Keogh could, and maybe should, have broken the deadlock but could only head wide from six yards, ensuring the encounter remained goalless.

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3 Derby 43 29 78
4 QPR 43 14 73
5 Wigan 42 17 70
6 Brighton 43 12 65
7 Reading 43 10 64
8 Ipswich 43 6 64
9 N Forest 43 5 62
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13 Middlesbro' 43 9 58
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15 Sheff Wed 43 2 53
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19 Doncaster 43 -28 43
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