TEN-MAN Albion suffered a third-round exit at the Madejski Stadium as their FA Cup hoodoo continued against Reading.
Shane Long's strike five minutes before half-time sentenced Roberto Di Matteo's men to a sixth successive defeat on all fronts.
And it was the third time in six years the Royals have knocked the Baggies out of the competition.
The closest the visitors came to equalising was when James Morrison hit the bar in the 54th minute while Ishmael Miller - making his first start of the season - was guilty of missed first-half chances.
In the striker's defence, he was denied what looked a clear-cut penalty and controversially had a goal disallowed - both in the opening 20 minutes.
To add to Albion's woes, half-time substitute Jonas Olsson was sent-off for a second bookable offence on the hour-mark on his return from two-and-a-half months out with an Achilles injury.
Miller replaced Peter Odemwingie in the lone striker role as Di Matteo made four changes to his team.
Paul Scharner returned from illness at centre-half and Giles Barnes and Boaz Myhill were named in the Baggies' XI, with Chris Brunt captaining the side.
Albion started brightly and the ball bounced off Mikele Leigertwood into the path of Miller in the third minute.
But the Baggies striker could not muster enough power in his shot to beat Adam Federici from 12 yards as Matt Mills put pressure on him.
Barnes' brilliant long-range ball in behind the Royals defence three minutes later saw Miller burst through on goal.
And the visitors appealed strongly for a penalty as he went down under Ian Harte's challenge in the box, only for referee Jon Moss to wave play on.
The hosts came close to scoring on 12 as Harte flashed a 20-yard free-kick inches past the left-hand post.
Four minutes later, Myhill came to the Baggies' rescue as he showed razor-sharp reactions to tip over Noel Hunt's header from Jobi McAnuff's left-wing cross.
At the other end, Miller got in between Mills and Federici from Barnes' deflected cross and the ball bounced free for the Albion hitman to roll it into the empty net.
But Yorkshire official Moss ruled it out for an alleged foul by Miller on the Royals keeper.
Graham Dorrans drove from midfield in the 22nd minute and weighted a pass to Miller, who should at least have hit the target, but he dragged his left-footed shot wide of the far post from 15 yards.
Marek Cech saved the day for Albion on 33 as he headed McAnuff's cross clear in the six-yard box to deny Long or Hunt a crack at an open goal.
Two minutes later, Scharner failed to clear Jimmy Kebe's cross inside the six-yard box and Long volleyed over, with the goal at his mercy.
But five minutes before the break, he made amends.
The Baggies switched off and a ball down the middle saw Long get in behind Gianni Zuiverloon and fire across Myhill into the bottom far corner to give Brian McDermott's men the lead at the break.
Di Matteo made a change at the interval as Olsson returned from his long injury lay-off in place of Scharner.
And the giant Swede was quickly in the action as he picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Long within two minutes of the restart.
Moments later, McAnuff fired a shot straight at Myhill from the edge of the box and when play switched to the other end, James Morrison headed inches wide from Barnes' right-wing cross.
Miller limped out of the action on 52 and was replaced by Roman Bednar, fresh from his loan spell at Leicester.
Myhill showed bravery in the 53rd minute as he dived in to prevent Leigertwood scoring from Alex Pearce's head down.
A minute later, there was more Albion agony in front of goal when Brunt laid the ball off for Morrison and his curling shot beat Federici but hit the top of the crossbar.
Albion's afternoon went from bad to worse on the hour-mark as Olsson was sent-off for a second bookable offence when he brought down Hunt just outside the box.
Di Matteo made another change in the 63rd minute as Jerome Thomas came on for Barnes.
Bednar went down under Pearce's challenge from Thomas' cross in the 79th minute - but referee Moss waved away the Baggies' spot-kick claims.
And, with that, went Albion's chances of forcing a replay.
READING (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings, Mills, Pearce, Harte; McAnuff, Leigertwood, Karacan, Kebe; Hunt (Robson-Kanu 85), Long (Church 75). Subs not used: McCarthy (gk), Tabb, Ingimarsson, Antonio, Howard.
ALBION (4-2-3-1): Myhill; Hurst, Zuiverloon, Scharner (Olsson HT), Cech; Dorrans, Jara; Morrison, Brunt, Barnes (Thomas 63); Miller (Bednar 52). Subs not used: Carson (gk), Cox, Shorey, Fortuné.
GOAL: READING - Long (40).
BOOKINGS: ALBION - Olsson (foul 47), Dorrans (dissent 62).
SENDING-OFF: ALBION - Olsson (second bookable offence 60).
REFEREE: J Moss (Yorkshire).
ATTENDANCE: 13,005 (Albion fans 2,272).
ALBION STARMAN: Boaz Myhill.
PIC: CUP ADVENTURE OVER...Brunt in action at the Madejski