An early Mo Barrow header gave the Royals all three points, despite this being their only effort on target at the Madejski Stadium.
The Lilywhites had another plethora of efforts on goal, but despite dominating the possession and the chances - hitting both the post and bar - they could not get back into the game, which their play certainly deserved.
Billy Bodin, returning to the starting XI, put in an excellent performance of the right hand side and inside two minutes the Welsh international tested former Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone, as he cut in and smashed a shot on goal that the Italian pushed onto the head of Louis Moult – who started in attack - but the No.21 couldn’t keep the ball down.
The home side took the lead 12 minutes in as a free kick was awarded on the right of the box for a foul by Ben Davies on Jon Dadi Bodvarsson. Liam Kelly’s inswinging free kick was flicked on to the back post and Barrow headed into the top left corner from close range.
The yellows responded almost immediately. With their riposte coming as Bodin was brought down on the edge of the penalty area and Moult curled free kick around the wall, but hit the corner of post and bar and out for a goal kick.
Bodin continued to be a thorn in the side of Paul Clement’s outfit down the right as he worked space for cross, put an excellent ball into the box, but Alan Browne couldn’t quite connect with the header when unmarked eight yards out.
Just before the interval Tom Barkhuizen made a run from his own half; marched through the middle of the Royals backline and curled a shot goalwards from 25 yards that Mannone pushed away, luckily for him landing at the feet of a home team player.
Declan Rudd had been a spectator for much of the game, but two minutes into first half stoppage time he made a vital save from Liam Moore’s header from Sone Aluko’s free kick by the right hand corner flag after Chris Gunter’s blatant dive, when Greg Cunningham had pulled out of a tackle.
North End’s No.39 Bodin continued in the second half where he had left off in the first with an effort that he fired over the bar as Cunningham found him with an excellent cross after a clever back heel from half-time substitute Sean Maguire set his fellow Irishman away down the left.
Maguire had come on with skipper Tom Clarke for Davies and Moult as the manager looked to change the direction of the game and it continued to be one-way traffic with the 704 PNE fans right behind their yellow-clad side.
Five minutes after the interval a Bodin cross from the right, was met by a powerful Maguire header which crashed off the bar and out – just the luck the Lilywhites seemed to be having in recent weeks.
With four minutes to go Bodin yet again caused problems down the right, cutting inside of fellow Welshman Gunter and drove a shot through a crowd of players, but it flew inches wide of the left hand post and despite the best efforts of the side, a goal would not come and the home side held on for the points.
Reading line-up: Mannone, Gunter (c), Moore, Swift, Aluko, Barrow, Bacuna, Ilori, Bodvarsson (Martin, 72), Kelly (Evans, 85), Richards (Clement, 46). Subs not used: Jaakkola, Van Den Berg, Kermorgant, Holmes.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher, Cunningham (c), Pearson, Huntington, Davies (Clarke, 46), Bodin, Browne, Moult (Maguire, 46), Robinson (Harrop, 79), Barkhuizen. Subs not used: Mawell, Horgan, Gallagher, Earl.
Attendance: 15,501 (704 PNE fans)
Referee: Mr A Madley