Derby County 0
Reading and Derby were forced to settle for a point at a sun-drenched Madejski Stadium this afternoon after both teams missed good chances to win it in the second half.
The Royals' best opportunity fell to Adam Le Fondre, who couldn't keep a half-volley down from the edge of the six yard box, after an excellent cross from Garath McCleary had found a way through a resolute Rams defence.
Derby meanwhile came within inches of taking the victory when substitute Patrick Bamford was denied in a one on one situation by Alex McCarthy's sprawling body.
Royston Drenthe could only find the side netting in the first half, while Hope Akpan stooped low to head just wide - and Nick Blackman volleyed inches over the crossbar late on.
Alfie had the ball in the back of the net but was cautioned for using his arm to turn it home - and no winner came. Reading dropped out of the play-off places and will look to regain a play-off place at Birmingham next weekend.
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Obita, Gorkss, Pearce, Akpan, Guthrie, McCleary, McAnuff (c), Drenthe (Blackman 79), Robson-Kanu (Le Fondre 31).
Subs: Federici, Kelly, Hector, J Taylor, Pogrebnyak.
Yellow: Guthrie, Le Fondre.
Derby: Grant, Wisdom, Forsyth, Bryson, Keogh (c), Eustace, Hughes (Hendrick 30), Buxton, Dawkins (Bamford 62), Ward (Russell 90), Martin.
Subs: Ledzdins, Whitbread, Thorne, Sammon.
Referee: Mr M Jones
Att: 19,514 (1,623 away)
McCleary arrowed a cross into the box and it skidded through to the feet of Hal Robson-Kanu, but the striker wasn't expecting it to get through two Rams defenders and couldn't control the ball to get an early shot away at goal.
The Royals had started brilliantly and moments later Drenthe's dangerous free kick was headed over by a Derby head at the far post. And then McAnuff wormed his way into the box from the left and went down under a challenge from Hughes, appealing for a penalty, but nothing was given.
Jamie Ward was causing Reading a few problems at the other end, a low cross hacked clear by Gunter and then a driven effort from range bobbling wide of the bottom right corner.
And Obita made an exceptional sliding tackle to deny the lively Ward from 8 yards out, blocking the follow-up shot as well to keep the game goalless.
With 20 minutes gone, Drenthe broke into acres of space down Derby's left, scuttled into the box and lashed a left-footed effort into the side netting. And soon after, Martin squandered a chance at the other end, guiding a header wide of the left post.
Chances were hardly at a premium, after the Royals wall had done its job against a Rams free kick, Wisdom's follow-up drive was well charged down before McCarthy had to make a save.
Then Robson-Kanu outmuscled his man to get on the end of a McCleary reverse pass, but off balance he couldn't get enough boot behind the shot and Grant mopped up the danger with ease.
Hal had to come off on the half hour, replaced with Adam Le Fondre and Alfie almost latched onto a Drenthe pass which was too heavy in the end and Grant slid out to claim it.
But then with five minutes of the first half remaining, Craig Bryson spooned a near post effort high over the bar when a low passed corner caught the Royals defence napping.
The first shot at goal in the second half came from the boot of Jobi McAnuff, who cut in on his right boot and bulleted an effort at goal which Grant did well to get behind and gather.
Then a deep corner was headed back by Pearce to McCleary, whose shot was charged down out but only as far as Akpan. He unleashed an effort that deflected against Gorkss and harmlessly into the arms of Grant on the bounce.
At the other end, Derby almost edged ahead when Wisdom battled past McAnuff and into the box and his low cross flashed across the box to Dawkins, who took too long to shoot, allowing Pearce and then Gorkss to block and clear.
McCleary scampered in from the right flank to drag a low effort wide of the target on the hour, while substitute Patrick Bamford whistled just wide of the right post at the other end.
The golden opportunity of the match fell to Adam Le Fondre with 25 minutes to go. McCleary founds some space to run into down the right, he crossed into the box and Alfie was unmarked at the far post with the goal in front of him, but he couldn't keep a tricky half-volley down and it flew high over the bar to hand Derby a huge let-off.
Reading had their goalkeeper to thank soon after, Bamford running in behind the Royals' back line to go one on one with the keeper but McCarthy came off his line to save with his body, doing just enough to deflect it wide of the post.
Akpan then received the ball from McCleary and took a nice touch to turn towards the byline. He passed it across goal but Le Fondre couldn't get to it before Wisdom who intercepted inside the six yard box.
Nigel Adkins brought Nick Blackman on with 10 minutes remaining and the Royals almost unlocked the Derby defence with a dinked McCleary cross that was just too high for Le Fondre.
And another excellent opportunity came from the same source soon after, McCleary's chipped far post cross finding an unmarked Akpan striding into the box, but the midfielder stooped low and could only head wide.
And with five minutes left, again McCleary almost provided the killer ball. This time he found Blackman in the middle who volleyed inches over.
Le Fondre had the ball in the back of the net with less than three minutes of the game remaining, but as Madejski Stadium celebrated, the referee spotted a handball from the frontman and ruled the goal out.
But there was to be no way through and both teams had to settle for a point, ruing missed chances to take all three.