Reading 2 Preston North End 1 - the Lilywhites' unbeaten run comes to an end at the Madejski Stadium
Preston North End's 12-match unbeaten run came to an end as they were beaten by Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Two goals in the space of six minutes in the first half were to prove their downfall, Yakou Meite putting the Royals ahead before a defensive mix-up presented Mo Barrow with a simple second.
North End were never at their best and a double-half substitution backfired somewhat when one of the subs, Brandon Barker, lasted just 11 minutes before pulling up with injury.
However, the other half of that change, Jayden Stockley, was to get on the scoresheet late in the day to set up an exciting finish.
Stockley found the net two minutes into stoppage-time, knocking home a rebound after Sean Maguire's shot had come back off the post.
Josh Earl headed wide after that as PNE looked for an unlikely equaliser but it wasn't to come, this their first defeat in the Championship since New Year's Day at Rotherham.
At the time of Stockley's goal, North End actually only had 10 players on the pitch.
Ben Pearson hobbled off after carrying an injury for most of the game, Alex Neil deciding not to risk his midfielder in the dying moments and had used all of his substitutes.
The North End side had shown three changes to the last which beat Birmingham before the international break.
Callum Robinson, Paul Gallagher and Earl came into the starting XI, replacing Brad Potts, Andrew Hughes and Stockley.
Hughes and Potts were kept out by injury, with Stockley dropping to the bench.
PNE's first sight of goal came when Robinson was fouled three yards outside the box to win a free-kick.
Gallagher took the free-kick and saw it bounce off the wall, Daniel Johnson's follow-up also blocked by the Royals defence.
Reading began to get a foothold in the game, shots from Meite and Andy Rinomhota which went wide a warning of what was to come as the first half unfolded.
The home side took the lead on the half-hour mark, John Swift's pass sending Barrow into space down the left side of the box.
He got beyond Jordan Storey and drilled a low cross across the box which Meite stretched to meet at the far post and fire into the net.
Johnson miscued a shot in the box after Gallagher had squared a low free-kick from the left-wing into his path.
The Royals extended their lead in the 36th minute, it something of a defensive calamity on Preston's part.
When a long ball was flicked on down Reading's right channel, Davies and Barrow set off in pursuit.
As the ball reached the box, Davies tried to knock it back towards Declan Rudd but it fell short, Barrow nipping in between Rudd and the covering Storey - who should have cleared - to take it square and roll a shot into the empty net.
It could have been three on the stroke of half-time but for a good save from Rudd.
Ovie Ejaria hit a curling shot from the edge of the box which Rudd dived full length to his left to fingertip against the far post.
North End made a double substitution at the interval, Barker and Stockley replacing the ineffective Lukas Nmecha and Robinson.
But after some promising runs from Barker in the early stages of the second half, his time on the pitch came to an abrupt end when he pulled up with what looked like a hamstring strain.
He had only been on for 11 minutes when Louis Moult had to replace him.
Moult, making his first appearance since December after a hamstring injury, had a couple of chances fall his way in quick succession.
His 70th minute shot from 14 yards was saved by by keeper Emi Martinez diving to his left.
Sixty seconds later, Moult lifted a shot over the bar after Maguire had laid the ball off to him.
Chances were traded at either end as North End looked for a way back into the game and Reading played on the counter-attack.
Substitute Garath McCleary fired over the bar for the hosts while Gallagher should have done better with a chance in the 83rd minute.
Storey's long ball into the box and headed on by Stockley and fell to Gallagher who sent a shot bouncing across the six-yard box and well wide of the far post.
North End pulled a goal back more than two minutes into stoppage-time.
Maguire's shot from close range hit the post, the ball rebound to Stockley who fired home from close range.
They were to almost snatch an equaliser right at the death, Darnell Fisher's cross reaching Earl beyond the far post but the left-back could only head wide.
Reading: Martinez, Yiadom, Moore, Miazga, Blackett, Baker, Rinomhota, Ejaria (Harriott 88), Swift (McShane 65), Barrow (McCleary 57), Meite. Subs (not used): Gunter, Olivereira, Walker, Olise.
PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Storey, Davies, Earl, Pearson, Nmecha (Barker 46, Moult 57)), Gallagher, Johnson, Robinson (Stockley 46), Maguire. Subs (not used): Rafferty, Huntington, Ledson,, Crowe.
Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland)
Attendance: 16,771 (1,782 PNE)