Despite a late push, Preston North End couldn’t overcome a three-goal deficit as Reading left Deepdale with a 3-2 victory.
The Royals were two up within 20 minutes, with Lucas Joao scoring an early brace, and shortly after half-time John Swift had a third for his side.
Daniel Johnson got one back for North End almost immediately and Cameron Archer was on target 15 minutes before the end, but Ryan Lowe’s side couldn’t find an equaliser.
After the ground staff had done brilliantly to clear the wintry conditions at Deepdale, the game got underway and the visitors took the lead after just two minutes through Joao, who scored a follow-up after Daniel Iversen had kept out two close-range efforts.
Within 20 minutes, the striker had his second of the afternoon, receiving the ball with his back to goal before turning and firing into the top corner.
North End saw the majority of the ball in the following stages, without really creating anything of note, and Ryan Lowe opted to make an early change in the 35th minute, replacing Brad Potts with Liam Lindsay in a change of shape.
Two minutes later, though, it was Joao again asking the questions and he would have had a hat-trick were it not for a fantastic point-blank save from Iversen to deny the forward.
PNE had the perfect chance to halve the deficit before half-time, after superb pressing from Scott Sinclair won the ball back high up the pitch. He found Emil Riis around eight yards out and, with Cameron Archer and Alan Browne free to his left, he opted to shoot but sent his effort into the stands.
Another change followed at the break as Ryan Ledson replaced Ben Whiteman, but it was the visitors who had all the early cances, and Iversen was called upon three times within the first five minutes of the half.
First it was Swift he denied from all of 30 yards, before he pulled off two brilliant stops to deny both Michael Morrison and Lucas Joao from consecutive corners.
He could do nothing, though, when Swift played a one-two with Joao and the No.10 finished confidently into the far corner.
However, straight from the resulting kick-off, PNE were able to pull a goal back as substitute Ched Evans flicked the ball towards Johnson, and the Jamaican made his way into the area and slotted past the goalkeeper courtesy of a deflection.
Just short of 20 minutes later, the deficit was reduced to one by Archer as the ball fell kindly to him just a few yards out, and he fired home from inside six yards.
North End pushed for a late equaliser, with the likes of Sinclair and Evans coming close, but they couldn’t quite find the goal to earn a point.
PNE line-up: Iversen; van den Berg, Bauer, Hughes; Potts (Lindsay, 35), Whiteman (Ledson, 46), Browne, Johnson, Sinclair; Riis (Evans, 53), Archer. Subs not used: Ripley, McCann, Rafferty, Diaby.
Reading line-up: Hein; Yiadom, Morrison, Holmes, Rahman (McIntyre, 61); Drinkwater, Rinomhota, Swift; Ince (Barker, 90+6), Joao, Hoilett (Meite, 67). Subs not used: Southwood, Meite, Dele-Bashiru, Camara, Abrefa.
Attendance: 12,817 (332 away fans).
Referee: Mr J Busby.