Reading and Birmingham fought out a low-key 0-0 Championship draw at Madejski Stadium as John O’Shea‘s career came to an end.
O’Shea, Reading’s 38-year-old centre back, was afforded a cameo appearance in the last minute after he had announced his retirement in midweek.
Both sides formed a guard of honour for the former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland defender as he came on as a substitute.
Reading avoided the drop last weekend – despite their 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough – after Rotherham went down following their 2-1 loss at West Brom.
Birmingham were unbeaten in six matches and had also secured safety in the second tier – overcoming a nine-point deduction in March for breaking the EFL’s profitability and sustainability rules.
Reading forced the pace early on, a dangerous free-kick from Lewis Baker on the left hurriedly cleared by the Birmingham defence.
A superb cross from the right from Chris Gunter found Josh Barrett alone in the area. But Reading’s 20-year-old midfielder horribly miscued his volley, with Birmingham defender Marc Roberts thumping the loose ball to safety.
The home side continued to press, with an inswinging Baker corner scrambled clear and Andy Yiadom shooting wastefully wide.
Birmingham had shown little going forward, mostly relying on resilience at the back.
But they did make headway when Jota cut in from the right flank. His effort was low and accurate but home goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez made a smart, smothering save at his near post.
Reading were swiftly back on the attack, with Barrett providing a precise centre for Danny Loader.
Loader’s attempt from a tight angle appeared to be on target but Birmingham keeper Lee Camp somehow bundled it away from the goalline.
Camp was then called into action again, palming away a fierce shot from Michael Olise.
Birmingham threatened briefly but Roberts headed wildly over after finding space from a Jota corner.
Jota looked lively at the start of the second half, sending one effort straight at Martinez and then seeing another deflected wide.
Reading replied when Loader burst through from midfield but he lost his composure and drove over from 20 yards.
Birmingham captain Craig Gardner did much the same at the other end from similar distance.
Jorge Mendonca, Reading’s first-team assistant coach, was cautioned by referee Keith Stroud for protesting too heatedly on the touchline. It was Mendonca’s third yellow of the season.
Back on the pitch, Camp had to be alert to tip over a deflected effort from Barrett that seemed to be looping into the top right corner.