Reading 0 Preston North End 3 - Match report on a fourth successive away win for PNE
Away-day specialists Preston North End turned in a fourth successive victory on the road to stun Championship leaders Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
The Royals had won all four of their previous league games at home without conceding a goal but North End clinically took them apart in the second half to come away with the three points.
They could even afford Daniel Johnson missing a penalty - that something of a collector's item - with the game goalless at the time.
Undeterred by that rare miss, Scott Sinclair and Emil Riis scored twice in three minutes to put Alex Neil's men in control.
Brad Potts added a third goal in stoppage-time as PNE counter-attacked their hosts in fine fashion, that 13 points they have taken on the road - compared to zero at Deepdale.
Just why they can turn on the style on their travels and not at home, is a question no one seems able to answer.
But clearly their high-pressing approach and knack of playing in transition suits them away from Lancashire.
Sinclair's goal was his fifth of the season, all of them coming in away matches, with Riis off the mark in Preston colours to cap a hard-working performance up front.
Potts put in a shift too on the left hand side of midfield and deserved to find the net, summoning up the energy to burst up field and get on the end of substitute Tom Barkhuizen's pass.
A word for Jordan Storey too, who produced a fine tackle to take the ball of Lucas Joao after he had broken clear into the North End box.
That came at 0-0, less than 10 minutes before PNE went on to open the scoring.
Neil had made six changes to the starting XI, two because of injury and four voluntarily.
Andrew Hughes and Patrick Bauer missed out with injuries, with Jayden Stockley, Josh Harrop, Paul Gallagher and Barkhuizen dropping to the bench.
In came Paul Huntington, Joe Rafferty, Ryan Ledson, Potts, Sinclair and Riis.
Huntington partnered Jordan Storey in the centre of defence, with Rafferty slotting in at left-back.
Ledson played a deeper midfield role, with Potts on the left and Sinclair down the right.
A feature of North End's first half play was their high press, hustling the Reading defenders as they tried to play out from the back.
They were the better side early on, Potts hammering a shot wide inside two minutes after Rafferty's free-kick into the box had been partly cleared.
Alan Browne was inches away from giving PNE the lead in the 21st minute after Riis won a free-kick a few yards outside the box.
The skipper took the set-piece, his right-foot drive just clearing the bar.
Just after Browne's chance, Riis got away down the left channel and cut into the box, his low shot travelling across the six-yard and out of the other side of the box.
Reading worked their way more into the contest as the first half progressed, the wide players Sone Aluko and Michael Olise finding space to work in.
The home side had to wait until the 28th minute for their first sight of goal, Aluko's cross from the left picking out Lucas Joao in the middle - his header pushed away by Declan Rudd diving to his left.
Rudd was called upon again to produce a fine block from Aluko's shot at the near post, the winger having cut the ball on to his left foot.
Johnson's miss from the penalty spot came three minutes into the second half, referee John Brooks pointing to the spot after Riis was tripped by Tom McIntyre as he moved down the right hand side of the box.
The midfielder went through his usual routine but put the penalty too close to Rafael who blocked with his legs.
Storey came to North End's rescue with a fine piece of defending when Joao broke through the Preston defence to run clear on goal.
As he arrived in the box with just Rudd to beat, Storey slide in with a fine tackle to almost surgically remove the ball off Joao's toes as he shaped to shoot.
Somehow, Raefel managed to deny Potts from close range in the 58th minute.
Ledson's wonderfully delivered cross from the right-wing travelled over the Reading defenders to find the run of Potts. He met it inside the six-yard box and whether his connection wasn't the best but Raefel got enough of a block on to keep it out.
Two goals in three minutes tipped the game in North End's favour, stunning their hosts in the process who hadn't conceded at home in the Championship to to this juncture.
They edged ahead in the 65th minute, Rafferty's strong tackle outside the box seeing the ball break forward to Sinclair who reacted quickly to knock it past the keeper and follow it into the net.
It was an advantage which was quickly doubled, Ledson's pass sending Riis running into the box, the Dane confidently shooting left-footed past Rafael.
North End soaked up pressure from then on, never really looking like conceding thanks to some solid defending and having a good shape about them.
Their third goal came a minute into stoppage time, executed superbly on the break.
Riis held the ball up inside the PNE half and swept a pass out to Barkhuizen on the right-wing.
Barkhuizen showed a clean pair of heels to the Reading defence to take the ball into the box and square it into the path of Potts who swept a finish into the roof of the net.
Reading: Rafael, Esteves (Yiamdon 75), Morrison, McIntyre, Richards, Rinomhota, Laurent, Aluko (Puscas 68), Semedo, Olise (Baldock 71), Joao. Subs (not used): Yiadom, Gibson, Watson, Tetek, Walker.
PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Huntington, Storey, Rafferty, Ledson, Johnson, Potts, Browne, Sinclair (Barkhuzien 76), Riis. Subs (not used): Earl, Harrop, Gallagher, Stockley, Maguire, Ripley.
Referee: John Brooks (Leicestershire)
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