Match report: Preston North End 2 Reading 3
Preston North End dropped to second bottom of the Championship after being beaten by Reading at Deepdale.
The Royals had arrived in Lancashire as the division's bottom club but recorded their first win of the season - inflicting PNE's first defeat at home this term.
Twice North End scored equalisers to get themselves back into the game but as the game wore on they looked fragile both in terms of their play and confidence.
The visitors took a 23rd minute lead, somewhat against the run of play it must be said, Sam Baldock getting behind the home defence to fire home.
Daniel Johnson's deflected shot from the edge of the 'D' brought North End level within nine minutes.
Reading regained the lead early in the second half, Tiago Ilori getting on the end of a Sone Aluko cross to finish well.
Callum Robinson brought the hosts level a second time in the 76th minute, getting the last touch on a Josh Earl shot.
But within five minutes Reading took the lead a third time through Leandro Bacuna and this time there was no way back for Preston.
The North End had shown five changes to the one which had drawn against Bolton before the international break.
Darnell Fisher, Earl, Louis Moult, Tom Barkhuizen and Johnson came into the starting XI, Alan Browne missing out through injury and Ben Pearson suspended - Graham Burke, Brandon Barker and Andrew Hughes moved to the bench.
There was a change of system with Alex Neil going for a 3-4-2-1 formation, Earl and Fisher pushed up as wing-backs while Barkhuizen and Robinson were wide of centre-forward Moult.
With a little more than a minute on the clock, Earl got space down the left-wing and sent a slow cross into the middle, one which was a little bit behind Barkhuizen.
But Barkhuizen adjusted to still get a shot away, the effort going wide.
Robinson's low shot from outside the box was parried by Royals goalkeeper Sam Walker low down by the post, Barkhuizen's follow-up effort from a narrow angle also blocked.
Barkhuizen lifted a first-time shot on the half turn inches over the bar after being picked out by Fisher's fine cross from the right-wing.
The woodwork then denied Barkhuizen a short time later, his header from Robinson's cross hitting the inside of the post with the keeper beaten.
Against the run of play, Reading took a 23rd minute lead.
John Swift appeared to foul Paul Gallagher as they challenged for a ball a few yards outside the box and as the Preston players hesitated, Swift lifted a pass over the defence to free Baldock in the box.
He took a touch and fired a shot across Declan Rudd and into the far corner.
North End were level nine minutes later, the goal having its origins down the left-wing.
Earl sent over a cross which found Robinson in the box, his shot from 12 yards blocked by team-mate Moult.
The ball rebounded out of the box into the path of Johnson on the edge of the 'D', his left-foot shot deflecting off centre-half Moore and travelling into the net past the wrong-footed Walker.
Robinson was inches away from giving PNE the lead just a minute later, Moult's clever pass having played him in behind the Reading back line.
From an angle, Robinson rolled a shot across goal and saw it run inches wide of the far post.
Rudd saved well with his legs at the near post after Liam Kelly got room in the box after playing a neat one-two with Swift.
Reading left-back Andy Yiadom was booked for simulation in the 43rd minute, having gone to ground in the box under a Barkhuizen challenge - a few PNE hearts were in mouths until referee Darren Bond gave it the home side's way and pulled out the yellow card.
In the first attack of the second half, Gallagher saw a shot parried by Walker, Barkhuizen's cross setting up the chance.
The visitors regained the lead in the 52nd minute, a corner taken short on the left catching PNE out.
When the ball was played short to Swift, DJ and Earl both moved to close him down.
Swift's back heel took them both out of the game, it releasing Aluko who drove a low cross into the box which Ilori finished emphatically.
It prompted a double substitution from Neil, with Josh Harrop and Lukas Nmecha replacing Fisher and Gallagher - the withdraw of Gallagher leading to one or two boos from the home stands.
In the 58th minute, Harrop's corner found Paul Huntington in the middle, his downward header saved by the keeper.
Two chances fell North End's way in the space of 60 seconds, the first coming from Barkhuizen's long throw in which eventually fell the way of Earl at the far post.
The left-back got a shot away which Walker spread himself well to block.
Tom Clarke then sent a header goalwards from a corner which was on target until it hit team-mate Nmecha in the six-yard box.
PNE pulled level in the 76th minute, a goal which should have earned them a point and maybe provided a platform to push on and even win it.
Earl drilled in a low shot from the edge of box which looked on its way in, Robinson applying the final touch from a couple of yards out.
But within five minutes they conceded a third time which gave Reading their victory,
Barkhuizen gave the ball away in the Royals' half, the visitors counter-attacking down the inside-right channel.
Substitute Josh Sims took the ball down the side of the box and pulled the ball back into the middle for Bacuna to sweep home the winner.
It completely knocked the stuffing out of Preston who barely created a chance after that, the only one of note a shot from substitute Graham Burke which the keeper dealt with low down.
This was Reading's first win since April - that also coming against PNE at the Madejski Stadium.
PNE: Rudd, Clarke, Huntington, Davies, Fisher (Harrop 56), Gallagher (Nmecha 56), Johnson, Earl, Barkhuizen, Moult (Burke 80), Robinson. Subs (not used): Storey, Hughes, Barker, Maxwell.
Reading: Walker, Gunter, Moore, Ilori, Yiadom, Aluko (Sims 79), Bacuna, Kelly (Rinomhota 90) Meite (Bodvarsson 75), Swift, Baldock. Subs (not used): O'Shea, McShane, McNulty, Jaakkola.
Referee: Darren Bond (Wigan)
Attendance: 10,849 (288 away)