Adel Taarabt saw a second-half penalty saved as Queens Park Rangers were held to a 0-0 draw by Norwich City on Saturday that left them rooted to the foot of the Premier League table.
Victory would have taken Harry Redknapp's side to within a point of safety, but Taarabt saw his 56th-minute spot-kick parried by Mark Bunn to leave QPR three points beneath fourth-bottom Reading.
"That's how it goes. Adel was outstanding again," said QPR manager Redknapp.
"It's just one of those things. If we score, then we win the game, there's no doubt."
QPR, who gave a debut to £12.5-million ($19.7-million, €14.6-million) record signing Christopher Samba, had goalkeeper Julio Cesar to thank for keeping the visitors at bay with a number of eye-catching saves.
With second-placed Manchester City not in action until Sunday's home game with Liverpool, leaders Manchester United can increase their lead at the top to 10 points if they win at Fulham in the evening kick-off.
Chelsea, third, will close to within three points of City if they win at Newcastle United, while Everton can move into the top four if they overcome beleaguered second-bottom club Aston Villa at Goodison Park.
Sixth-placed Arsenal will also be looking to make up ground on their rivals for Champions League qualification when they host Stoke City.