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Reading rumbled by plucky Preston

Reading v Preston North End – Sky Bet Championship – Madejski Stadium
(Image credit: David Davies)

Reading remain three points clear at the top of the Sky Bet Championship table despite falling to a 3-0 defeat at home to Preston.

Although Preston dominated the first half, Reading went closest to breaking the deadlock through a header from top scorer Lucas Joao.

Preston’s Daniel Johnson missed a penalty soon after half-time but two goals in a four-minute spell – from Scott Sinclair and Emil Riis Jakobsen – put paid to Reading’s hopes.

The visitors added a third goal through Brad Potts in stoppage time to confirm their superiority.

Reading had won seven of their opening eight league matches but lost their unbeaten record in a 3-2 defeat away to Coventry last Friday.

They were, though, on a 100 per cent league run at Madejski Stadium this term – four wins out of four, seven goals scored and none conceded.

In contrast, Preston had lost all five games at home this season – collecting all their 10 points on the road.

After a 2-2 draw at Norwich, they had picked up successive victories at Brentford, QPR and Huddersfield.

Preston opened brightly, forcing Reading to defend in numbers to protect goalkeeper Rafael.

Potts found space on the edge of the home area but his weak effort failed to trouble Rafael as it drifted wide.

Reading tried to threaten going forward but a promising move down the left flank ended with Preston keeper Declan Rudd comfortably catching an Omar Richards cross.

Preston continued to dominate, with Alan Browne off target with a 25-yard free-kick that flew narrowly over the crossbar.

Jakobsen then shot across the face of the home goal after cutting in from the left wing.

Approaching the interval, Reading finally made progress in attack.

Rudd made a superb save to keep out Joao’s close-range header from a Sone Aluko cross.

Soon after, Rudd was in action again to block Aluko’s firm shot at his near post.

Preston could have gone ahead four minutes into the second period, when Reading defender Tom McIntyre clumsily fouled Jakobsen in the area.

But Johnson, usually reliable from the spot, produced a tame penalty – after a laboured run-up – that Rafael saved with ease.

Joao twice missed good opportunities to add to his nine-goal tally this season and Preston made sure he paid for his wastefulness.

Sinclair touched in his fifth goal of the campaign past Rafael in the 64th minute, despite looking in a suspiciously offside position.

And, four minutes later, Jakobsen got the better of a sluggish McIntyre to run towards Rafael before slotting home with precision.

Reading rallied near the end but Potts slotted home Preston’s third in the 92nd minute after a fast break and pass from Tom Barkhuizen.