Preston North End maintained their fantastic away form with a fourth straight win on the road as they dismantled table-toppers Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Daniel Johnson saw a penalty saved shortly after half-time, but goals from Scott Sinclair, Emil Riis and Brad Potts gave the Lilywhites another three points in Berkshire.
The selections saw North End boss Alex Neil make six changes to his starting XI from the Birmingham game the previous Saturday, with Paul Huntington and Joe Rafferty in at the back for the injured Patrick Bauer and Andrew Hughes, whilst Emil Riis, Brad Potts, Ryan Ledson and Scott Sinclair replaced Jayden Stockley, Tom Barkhuizen, Paul Gallagher and Josh Harrop – who all dropped to the bench. Whilst the hosts saw just one change, with the injured Liam Moore out and Tom McIntyre in to replace him.
The Lilywhites started with a real head of steam and pressed the Royals high up the pitch and almost made early inroads with a second minute Rafferty free kick, won by Riis, cleared to Potts on the edge of the box, but his effort was dragged just wide of the left-hand post.
They were even closer from another set piece, again won by the young Danish striker, on 21 minutes, as skipper Alan Browne fired it up and over the wall from 25 yards, but also inches over the cross bar.
Reading had been restricted to very little and Declan Rudd had been a spectator for much of the half, but made two excellent saves in quick succession either side of the half hour mark.
Firstly, he made a superb one-handed stop to deny Lucas João, who got the back of his head on Sone Aluko’s left-wing cross and then the North End No.1 kept out Aluko himself, after a break down the right created him space to shoot low from 12 yards.
Three minutes into the second half and North End were awarded a penalty when Riis was dragged back by McIntyre as he drove into the box after a 40-yard run from the right wing after a good ball from Potts; referee John Brooks pointing straight to the spot.
However, the home goalkeeper and captain Rafael Cabral saved Daniel Johnson’s spot kick with his feet to keep the game goalless on the midfielder’s 250th career appearance.
As the game entered the final third, the game really started to open up and on the hour mark Brad Potts looked to have put PNE deservedly in front as Ledson’s cross from the right went right across to the back post, but again somehow Cabral got something in the way to keep it out.
And North End finally had the lead on 65 minutes as Scott Sinclair grabbed his fifth goal of the season. Some brilliant work from Rafferty, who won the ball back, battled through and middle of the pitch and found the former Celtic man with a lofted ball, who managed to stretch out a toe and finally get it past Cabral and into the goal.
And it was 2-0 just two minutes later and Riis had his first goal for the club. It was a brilliant ball from Ledson, who put the ball in behind for the Danish U21 striker to run down McIntyre, get goal side of the him and drill the ball under Cabral into the bottom left-hand corner.
And in the second minute of injury time the points were wrapped up as Riis won the ball and sent Barkhuizen away down the right-hand side, he raced away from his full back before perfectly weighting the ball into Brad Potts, who smashed into the top right corner from six yards out.
Reading line-up: Cabral (c), Esteves (Yiadom, 76), Richards, Morrison, McIntyre, Olise (Baldock, 71), Rinomhota, João, Aluko (Puscas, 68), Laurent, Semedo. Subs not used: Walker, Gibson, Tetek, Watson.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher, Rafferty, Ledson, Storey, Huntington, Sinclair (Barkhuizen, 76), Johnson, Riis, Browne (c), Potts. Subs not used: Ripley, Earl, Harrop, Gallagher, Stockley, Maguire.
Referee: Mr J Brooks