Yann Kermorgant's second-half penalty sent Reading to Wembley in a special evening at Madejski Stadium.
Following a handball in the box, Yann Kermorgant kept his cool to fire Reading into the lead. The one goal was enough to see the Royals progress with a 2-1 aggregate win after the first leg draw at Craven Cottage.
Despite late Fulham pressure the Royals defended valiantly to hold on to the win and book a place at Wembley, with jubilant scenes following the full-time whistle in Berkshire.
Jaap Stam was forced into two changes ahead of the second leg as he reshuffled his back line in absence of the suspended McShane and the injured Jordan Obita. Tiago Ilori and Joey van den Berg were added to the eleven, with Danzell Gravenberch and Liam Kelly returning to the squad. Fulham made one change from the4 first leg, dropping Chris Martin for Neekens Kebano.
A cagey opening ten minutes saw Joey van den Berg's corner nodded down in the box but fall behind for a goal kick, while at the other end Tyler Blackett heded an Ayite corner away from danger under pressure.
But it took a stunning save from Marcus Bettinelli to deny Yann Kermorgant the opening goal. Van den Berg delivered a floated ball into the box and Grabban and Kermorgant muscled their way into contention for it. It dropped for Kermorgant who turned on a sixpence and drilled low and hard towards the bottom left corner, only for the Cottagers keeper to brilliantly claw it wide of his post.
Blows were traded as Fulham came close themselves soon after. Fredericks foudn some space to run into down the right and his rifled low towards the near post only to see Ali Al Habsi save and gather the ball in low to his left.
Scott Malone fizzed a low left-footed shot in at goal but Al Habsi was more than equal to it, snaffling it into his body in the centre of his goal. And Slavisa Jokanovic's men were growing on confidence.
And it took a wonderful double save from Al Habsi to deny Fulham the opener. Blackett conceded a foul on Fredericks on the edge of the box and Cairney whipped a lovely set piece over the wall only to see our Omani leap to his left to save it. The rebound fell to Aluko but Al Habsi was on his feet in a flash to block the forward's drilled follow-up.
With half an hour gone, Swift found Blackett with the outside of his boot. From the left flank, he delivered a flat cross into Grabban who scrapped to take the first touch and then shot on the swivel but couldn't get a clean strike on it to trouble Bettinelli.
A jinking run from Swift almost opened Fulham up again. He beat two or three men and fed Williams who found Swift again with a one-two. He got to the ball at the same time as a Fulham leg and it spiralled up and dropped for Grabban who tried a speculative first time volley but couldn't connect correctly with it.
Malone needed to cover to intercept a dinked Swift cross into the Fulham box after good build-up play from Williams, Grabban and Kergmorgant. But the corner couldn't find a blue and white hooped shirt with a few minutes of the first half remaining.
But another tense 45 minutes ended without anything to separate the sides.
Half-time: Fulham 0-0 Reading
The Royals began the second-half quickly, going close through Grabban who latched on to a cross, floated into the Fulham area by Kermorgant.The striker angled his header goal-wards but was denied by Bettinelli between the sticks.
Moment later and the Royals had a penalty when Fulham’s defender Tomas Kalas seemed to scoop the ball with his arm inside his area, giving the referee no choice bit to point to the spot.
The Reading top-goal-scorer Kermorgant stepped up to take the spot-kick, and the striker made no mistake, firing his low effort past Bettinelli and into the bottom corner. A number of chances for the Royals followed soon after, with Swift and Grabban both going close for the hosts.
First Grabban made space with a jinking run into the Fulham penalty area forcing a fine save from the Cottager’s keeper. Next it was Swift who went within a whisker of doubling the Reading lead, when his effort from close-range was somehow kept out by Bettinelli, the score staying at 1-0.
As the half progressed Fulham began to fight back into the game and force a number of chances of their own. The Royals were sat deep but were still looking a threat on the counter attack, with Kermorgant and Grabban both providing an out ball from defence.
One such foray into the Fulham half saw Reading create a good chance which Kermorgant was unable to convert, after a fine run from midfield by Danny Williams opened up space fro the striker to shoot. With just under 15 minutes to play, Royals stopper Ali Al-Habsi was forced into some goalkeeping heroics.
The Oman international first denied McDonald from point-blank range, tipping the ball over the bar, before seconds later diving on the ball at the feet of Chris Martin to deny the Fulham striker and win a free-kick in the process.
As the clock ticked towards the 90 minute mark, Fulham threw men forward, looking for the goal that would have taken the tie to extra time.
Some brilliant Royals defending denied them however, as the home side held out to book a place under the arch in the play-off final.
Full-time: Reading 1-0 Fulham
Reading: Al Habsi, Gunter, Blackett (McCleary 65'), Ilori, Moore, Van den Berg, Evans, Williams, Swift (Kelly 75'), Grabban, Kermorgant (Mendes 88').
Subs: Jaakkola, Gravenberch, Beerens, Popa.
Yellow: Moore, Kermorgant
Fulham: Bettinelli, Fredericks, Kalas, Ream, Malone (Martin 75'), Johansen, McDonald, Cairney (c), Aluko, Ayite (Sessengnon 58'), Kebano (Piazon 58').
Subs: Button, Odoi, Parker, Cyriac.
Yellow: McDonald, Johansen, Malone