West Ham 4-2 ReadingWest Ham 4 (Nolan 23, 79, 87, Vaz Te 34)
Reading 2 (McCleary 53. Le Fondre 55)
A Kevin Nolan hat-trick condemned Reading to a final day defeat at Upton Park this afternoon, though the scoreline seemed a little harsh on Nigel Adkins' men.
A fairly even encounter tilted in West Ham's favour midway through the first half with a moment of misfortune; Royals stopper Alex McCarthy's clearance cannoned off the back of Andy Carroll and into the path of an unmarked Kevin Nolan, who rounded McCarthy and passed home the opener.
McCarthy made amends by saving a point blank range header from Nolan, but West Ham had a second soon after, when Ricardo Vaz Te rifled low into the bottom left corner via a deflection from Kaspars Gorkss's right leg.
At the break, a double substitution made an immediate impact. First Garath McCleary leathered a sweetly struck effort home via a deflection off the sliding body of Mark Noble.
Then, minutes later, the rampant Royals were level when one sub set up another. Blackman in space on the left passed a left-footed cross into the box and Le Fondre arrived on it at the far post to angle past Jaaskelainen from close range.
And Reading dominated for long spells, looking for a winner until Nolan struck the decisive blow, racing onto a lovely ball over the top from the outside of Carroll's boot, and passing it neatly into the bottom corner. He completed his hat-trick with a close range header and finally ended the Royals' challenge.
Substitutes: Henderson, Tomkins
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Kelly, Gorkss, Morrison, Karacan, Guthrie, McCleary, Robson-Kanu (Blackman HT), McAnuff (c), Pogrebnyak (Le Fondre HT).
Substitutes: Taylor, Pearce, Mariappa, Akpan, Carrico. Yellow: McAnuff
Ref: M Dean
McCleary tested Jaaskelainen early with a low right-footed drive, but West Ham carved open the first real chance when Mark Noble's floated far post cross was reached by the outstretched leg of Andy Carroll, but he couldn't wrap his boot around it enough to turn it inside the left upright.
Six minutes in, and Gunter's dinked cross was met by the head of Jobi McAnuff, but the Royals skipper couldn't keep his effort down. Then Robson-Kanu tried to connect with a low McCleary cut back but the forward missed his kick completely.
McAnuff then turned provider, lofting a ball to the far post where Pavel Pogrebnyak rose highest to head down and back across the body of Jaaskelainen, the Finn just managing to get a glove to it to turn it wide.
At the other end, Kelly did well to break up a break away from Joe Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te, while Cole robbed Guthrie of possession only to smash his 20-yard effort high and wide.
The game was open and Reading were looking lively in the final third, Guthrie drilling low and inches wide of the bottom left corner after a quarter of an hour.
And Gunter smashed a great chance into the side netting shortly after; a lovely crossfield ball found Robson-Kanu who slid it inside for the right-back who burst into the box, but he could find no way past the Hammers keeper.
Then, the hosts were handed a huge slice of luck to break the deadlock. Alex McCarthy collected and controlled a back pass, but his clearance cannoned off the back of Carroll and perfectly into the feet of Nolan, who rounded the Royals stopper and passed into an open net for 1-0.
McCarthy immediately made amends - Carroll's floated header across goal found Nolan in space and a superb save from the unsighted Royals stopper managed to push the ball off his line against the crossbar and out. Nolan held his head in disbelief.
He could do nothing about Wets Ham's second. Carroll did well to collect bring down a deep cross and touch it back for Vaz Te who drive low at goal. It took a slight deflection off a Reading leg and nestled in the bottom left corner.
Buoyed by that early piece of good fortune, West Ham pressed for more. Vaz Te wriggled round his man on the right and arrowed a right-footed shot against the stanchion, before Diame lashed over from Carroll's pass inside.
And just before the break, McCarthy had to save another effort from Diame that was swerving its way towards goal from an angle.
A double change at the break saw Adam Le Fondre enter the fray in place of Pogrebnyak, while Nick Blackman replaced Hal Robson-Kanu. And Reading began on the front foot, McAnuff hooking a speculative volley wide.
Then space opened up in front of Karacan, who scuttled forward and let fly with a rasping right-footed effort that whistled just over the crossbar. McAnuff tried his luck again from distance and Jaaskelainen had to be alert, to gathering it into his body well.
And Reading's dominance at the start of the second half paid off when Garath McCleary pulled one back. McAnuff scurried in from the left and cut the ball across the edge of the area where McCleary arrive and thundered past Jaaskelainen via a deflection from the sliding body of Noble.
An less than two minutes later, the Royals were level! Blackman collected a crossfield ball and directed a left-footed cross across the face of goal for Le Fondre to hammer home at the far post.
McCarthy had to be on his guard to parry a deflected Carroll shot just before the hour. But Reading were bossing things and the home crowd were becoming increasingly frustrated.
Gorkss did enough to deflect a Cole effort wide of the left post, while at the other end McCleary raced inside to drag a left-footed effort just wide.
But with little more than 10 minutes of the game remaining, Nolan put the hosts back in front. The lively midfielder sped onto a great ball over the top from Carroll, calmly controlling it in his stride and slotting home.
And, after McCarthy had done well to save a Carroll drive with his shoulder, West Ham added a harsh look to the scoreline, Nolan completing his hat-trick by heading home Maiga's cross inside the six yard box.