Hatters held to goalless draw at home by Royals
Championship: Luton Town 0 Reading 0
Luton played out a goalless draw with Reading at Kenilworth Road this evening as they severely dented the visitors' play-off chances.
The Hatters might have left with all three points had they been able to take their chances, particularly Jordan Clark's in the first half, and then James Collins with the very last kick.
However they didn't as Town once more couldn't register a third successive win at Championship level, although did pick up another clean sheet, their 13th in the league this season.
Hatters boss Nathan Jones had named an unchanged side, before being forced into a late alteration, Luke Berry pulling up in the warm-up, with Ryan Tunnicliffe coming in, Sam Nombe replacing him on the bench.
As they had on Saturday, the hosts made a really bright start to proceedings, playing at an excellent tempo and looking to get at their opponents from the word go.
On eight minutes, Elijah Adebayo let fly from 20 yards, his deflected attempt well gathered by an alert keeper Rafael.
Town remained in the ascendancy, as they created another fine chance on 20 minutes, Kal Naismith bursting forward with real intent on the left, his wonderful curling cross volleyed narrowly wide by Jordan Clark.
Just after the half hour, Luton fashioned another opening, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's fizzing drive from 22 yards requiring Rafael to tip the ball behind, while James Bree's angled free kick couldn't locate the far corner.
Liam Moore drilled a free kick into the wall for Reading who had their best opportunity on the stroke of half time, George Puscas directing his free header wide of the target from eight yards.
In the second period, the game began to open up slightly, with Michael Olise getting on the ball for Reading, but with an hour gone, Town might have done better when Adebayo was sent away on the right, slicing behind on his right foot.
Olise hammered miles off target from distance, as Town brought on George Moncur and Harry Cornick to pep up their attacking outlets, Adebayo's cross overhit and flying behind.
Cornick almost created an opening with 15 to go, his determined run on the right leading to a cross that Rafael gathered in front of Adebay who hadn't quite attacked at the far post.
The Royals went close when Ovie Ejaria worked some space just outside the box, his drilled attempt deflecting behind with Simon Sluga left wrong-footed.
With nine minutes left, the Hatters thought they had opened the scoring when a crossfield pass saw Cornick and Mpanzu combine for an effort that Moncur drove at goal, Rafael reacting to turn the ball behind at his near post.
From the resulting corner, Luton ought to have led as well, sub Glen Rea rising highest to head Bree's set-piece over the top.
The Royals finally started to show some urgency, sending on a number of forwards including the experienced Sam Baldock, as they searched for a win which was essential for their own hopes of a top six slot.
They almost broke through in the closing stages, Sluga saving at the feet of last season's four goal nemesis Yalou Meite, Lewis Gibson's pot-sot drifting wide and John Swift's set-piece gathered at the second attempt by Sluga.
Then came Luton's late opportunities to snatch a stoppage time winner, Moncur stretching to pick out Collins whose toepoke was turned behind by Rafael.
From the resulting corner, he should have been the hero for a second game running though, all alone at the near post, only to sky his header disappointingly over.
The result did see the Hatters climb above Stoke City into 12th place, ahead of Sunday afternoon's trip to Bristol City.
Hatters: Simon Sluga, James Bree, Kal Naismith, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley ©, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Glen Rea 73), Jordan Clark (Harry Cornick 64), Elijah Adebayo (James Collins 83), Kazenga LuaLua (George Moncur 64).
Subs not used: James Shea, Joe Morrell, Martin Cranie, Sam Nombe, Dan Potts.
Royals: Rafael, Omar Richards (Sone Aluko 78), Liam Moore (C Lewis Gibson 83), Michael Olise (Sam Baldock 78), Andy Rinomhota, Yakou Meite, Ovie Ejaria (Alfa Semedo 78), Andy Yiadom, Josh Laurent, Tom Holmes, George Puscas (John Swift 71).
Subs not used: Tomas Esteves, Luke Southwood, Dejan Tetek, Jayden Onen.
Booked: Yiadom 35, Bradley 43, Collins 90.
Referee: Michael Salisbury.