Reading 0 - West Bromwich Albion 0
A goalless draw at Reading made certain of a playoff place for Albion, but said goodbye to any remaining, albeit highly unlikely possibility of automatic promotion.
James Shan made five changes from Friday's game against Hull, with Sam Field and Jay Rodriguez rejoining the squad alongside Jacob Murphy, Tosin Adarabioyo and Conor Townsend in place of Chris Brunt, Dwight Gayle, Stefan Johansen, Kieran Gibbs and the injured Ahmed Hegazi.
Chances were few and far between, with Albion only looking likely to score towards the end when Gayle, Brunt and Matt Phillips had entered the fray, but they failed to get the decisive touch.
Albion stay fourth, but are now just two points ahead of Villa with a goal difference four better.
Never ones to spoil a party, we allowed Reading to get the point they needed to avoid relegation, by fielding a side that was far from our strongest. Several of our best players were on the bench and we only really started to create chances when they came on. Obviously Shan has decided to take no risks ahead of the play-offs.
The first half was dire as we toiled to create anything meaningful, allowing Reading to come on to us. For their part the early loss of two of their strikers to injury meant their threat was pretty toothless.
Second-half things livened up and both teams went close, with us hitting the bar and post. Although I'm no fan, Johnstone pulled off a world class save from a free kick.
Overall it was a pretty disappointing performance. Of the outfield players only Bartley (shock!) and the subs (Gayle, Phillips, Brunt) really impressed.
Bottom line is the squad is no way as decent as some would believe and if we go up we'll need wholesale changes, likewise if we stay down - even more so as the better players will be on their bikes to pastures new.
Rotherham and Derby are a formality now - bring on the Villa!
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