Reading manager Veljko Paunovic felt his side lacked the killer instinct required to keep alive their fading play-off hopes when held to a goalless draw at Luton.
Needing a win to bolster their chances of finishing inside the top six, the Royals only had one shot on target all night, as they fell six points behind Barnsley with just three games left.
Paunovic said: “We have to convert our opportunities and it’s not going to be many opportunities at this point of the season.
“You have to be clinical, we have to know it’s not going to be an easy or perfect opportunity, it’s probably going to be a sloppy ball, or a bounce back or a rebound and you’re going to have an opponent on top of you, but that’s what teams do in order to get results and that’s what we’re going to have to get better at.
“They defended very well in a lot of numbers and first half we didn’t understand the importance of finishing our actions, and that’s not a criticism, it’s just the fact.
“We have to have that killer instinct and at this point of the season that shouldn’t even be mentioned, understanding how important that you get in the final third, you get set, finish, score. We’ve got to work on that.”
Luton went closest early on, Jordan Clark volleying wide from eight yards out, but Reading also threatened on the stroke of half-time, George Puscas heading wide.
After the break, the Royals’ only effort that tested keeper Simon Sluga saw the Croatian hang on to John Swift’s free-kick inside the final 10 minutes.
The Hatters should have won it late on too, George Moncur denied by Rafael, before both Glen Rea and James Collins put headers over.
Town boss Nathan Jones added: “I’m delighted with the level of performance, just disappointed with the result as I felt we were the better side.
“We came out, we were aggressive, we moved the ball really well, created enough to have won the game, and limited a very, very potent team to very little.
“We wanted to be aggressive and to go really after a team as if you let them settle they can hurt you, but we were absolutely excellent from start to finish.
“I’m really proud of the performance, there’s just a tinge of disappointment and if we really want to do something then we have to win games like that.
“It sounds silly me saying that as these are a fantastic side and they don’t lose many games, they can out-pass you, out-play you, out-score you, but we were better tonight.”