READING FC dropped to fourth in the Championship table after a drab home 0-0 draw against Barnsley.

Royals drew for the first time in 19 games last weekend when the clash at Ipswich ended 2-2.

But Jaap Stam’s men have now managed two in a row, losing third place in the process to Huddersfield Town who beat QPR 2-1.

The only crumb of comfort was that fifth-placed Leeds United also lost ground in the promotion race as former boss Neil Warnock celebrated a 2-0 victory with Cardiff City at Elland Road.

But Stam, whose side had won seven of their previous eight league games at Madejski Stadium, will view today’s stalemate as two points dropped, even though Barnsley’s Marley Watkins hit the post in the second half.

Stam made two changes from the side that drew at Ipswich as George Evans and Roy Beerens replaced John Swift and Jordon Mutch.

Mutch is feared to have picked up a knock in training as he was not even on the bench, despite a goalscoring debut at Portman Road.

Meanwhile, ex-Royals Academy defender Angus MacDonald finally made his Madejski Stadium debut, albeit for the opposition having become a key player for the Tykes.

Paul Heckingbottom’s side also included Wales international Tom Bradshaw, the player once chased by Reading during a prolific spell with Walsall.

A bright start from the hosts saw Yann Kermorgant volley over from a Liam Kelly corner.

Kelly then failed to keep an effort on target from outside the box with 10 minutes gone before seeing a stinging shot blocked inside the area, with referee Darren Bond turning down Reading’s faint penalty appeal.

But Barnsley regrouped and wasted the best chance of the game to that point when Watkins’ final pass was just too strong for Bradshaw with only Ali Al-Habsi to beat.

The visitor threatened again with 25 minutes gone when they broke quickly, only for Bradshaw’s finishing to let him down.

Royals were not having it all their own way as a flurry of corners came to nothing and Barnsley’s defence, marshalled by MacDonald, dug deep.

The Tykes hit back nine minutes before the break, but Gethin Jones could only hit the side netting after latching on to a superb Adam Hammill pass.

Then moments later Kermorgant headed straight into Adam Davies’ arms from a fine Obita cross, before Bradshaw nodded over at the other end from Hammill’s accurate centre.

But clear-cut chances were few and far between so Stam shuffled his pack for the second-half, replaced Kelly with Lewis Grabban and reverted to three at the back.

But instead of giving Royals more punch up front, Grabban was used in central midfield, a move immediately questioned by the home fans.

Nevertheless, Stam’s men almost broke the deadlock six minutes after the break when Kermorgant’s excellent volley was saved by Davies at full-stretch after a pin-point cross from Chris Gunter.

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Around the Riverbanks with Alan Hughes Around the Riverbanks with Alan Hughes They went close again five minutes later, McCleary’s shot from the corner of the box bouncing an inch wide of the far post with Davies beaten.

But Reading were lucky not to fall behind in the 65th minute when Watkins’ effort rattled the far post with Al-Habsi rooted to the spot.

It was a major let-off, and they nearly capitalised soon after when McCleary’s cross found Beerens lurking at the back post, but the Dutchman’s shot from a tight angle was blocked by Davies’ legs.

The Tykes, though, wouldn’t lie down, skipper Marc Roberts sending a free header over from a Hamill corner with 20 minutes to go.

Then five minutes later they blew a gilt-edged chance when Reading were left outnumbered at the back from a slick counter-attack.

But when the final pass reached Hammill, he sliced his shot horribly wide with only Al-Habsi to beat.

Stam mixed it up for the final moments, sending on Adrian Popa for his debut alongside Kermorgant up front.

But the frustration continued, none more so than when Williams blazed over from a good position as the clock ticked past the 90 minute mark.

Royals also had a couple of weak penalty appeals turned down in the dying moments, one for what looked a strong shout for a trip on Chris Gunter, but Barnsley held on to claim a decent point on the road.

As for Reading, they will need to sharpen up in attack when they host Brentford on Tuesday night (8pm ko).