Preston 1 (Parkin 85 pen)
Reading 2 (Church 33, Kebe 42)
Reading clung on for an impressive 2-1 victory at Deepdale on Tuesday evening, despite a late second half rally from Preston that led to a nail-biting finish in Lancashire.
The Royals ran riot in the first period, with goals from Simon Church and Jimmy Kebe giving Brendan Rodgers' side a deserved two goal lead at the break.
However the home side rallied in the second half and the visiting defence had to rely on a combination of good luck and some stunning Adam Federici saves to take all three points back to Berkshire.
Jon Parkin's penalty raised the tension a notch after 85 minutes, but thanks to some late heroics from Reading's Australian 'keeper the long journey home to the Madejski was a happy one.
Preston: Lonergan (c); Jones, Nolan, Chilvers (sub Mawene 88), Collins; Shumulikoski, Chaplow (sub Carter 45), Sedgwick (sub Parkin 67), Wallace; Mellor, Brown.
Subs: Hart, Mawene (on Chilvers 88), Carter (on Chaplow 45), Henderson, Parkin (on Sedgwick 67), Elliott.
Reading: Federici; Cummings, Bertrand, O'Dea, Ingimarsson (c); Karacan (off Cisse 78), Gunnarsson, Howard; Kebe, McAnuff (off Mills 67), Church (sub Rasiak 88).
Subs: Hamer, Mills (on McAnuff 67), Cisse (on Karacan 78), Matejovsky, Sigurdsson, Hunt, Rasiak (on Church 88).
Referee: Mr A M Penn
A smattering of dedicated Royals fans made the lengthy trip up to Deepdale on a pleasant evening in Lancashire, and were greeted with two changes on the Reading team sheet - as Brynjar Gunnarsson and Simon Church replaced Gylfi Sigurdsson and Grzegorz Rasiak.
It was the home side that benefited from the first chance of the game, as Chris Sedgwick drifted in from the right hand side of midfield before sending a half volley dipping just over Adam Federici's crossbar.
The visitors did respond in type, as Jobe McAnuff continued his sparkling weekend form by turning inside Billy Jones and forcing a smart save off the legs of Andy Lonergan.
Some wonderful driving play from Brynjar Gunnarsson worked the Royals on their way to the next opening of the match, as the Icelandic midfielder released Kebe on the right hand side of midfield - though the winger's cross somehow evaded a tangle of on-rushing Orange shirts.
The pendulum of possession was starting to swing in Reading's favour at this stage, as with 19 minutes on the clock Brian Howard controlled well in the area before firing a volley narrowly over the crossbar.
The former Sheffield United man turned provider moments later, swinging in a dangerous near post corner that was deftly flicked towards goal by Ivar Ingimarsson - though an unfortunate deflection off Simon Church prevented a spectacular, if unlikely, opening goal.
Brendan Rodgers' side displayed some fantastic flowing football throughout the first period, but they took the lead in somewhat scrappier style - thanks to more tenacious work from Gunnarsson.
The 33-year-old robbed Richard Chaplow in the middle of midfield before releasing Church down the middle, and with plenty of work still to do the young striker kept his cool to slot home the opening goal.
More disastrous Preston defending granted Reading their second moments later, as a poor attempt at a clearance was slashed back into the Whites half by Brian Howard, allowing Jimmy Kebe to race through on goal and double the visitors' lead.
Much like with Church's opener the Malian midfielder still had plenty left to do, but showed a terrific turn of pace to dash away and bag his first goal of the campaign.
Preston did have the ball in the net as the second half got underway, but Chris Brown's neat control and finish was ruled out by the linesman's flag.
McAnuff tested Lonergan after some clever hold up play by Simon Church after 55 minutes, before the former West Ham main again stung the palms of the PNE 'keeper with a fizzing 30-yard effort.
Jobi was at the heart of the action in the second period and arguably should have made it three on the hour mark, as from all of five yards he miss-hit Kebe's well timed cross into the path of Lonergan - though it still required an impressive reactionary save from the former England U21 net minder.
At the other end Federici had to be alert to claw out Ross Wallace's cross-come shot, before the Australian again denied the Whites midfielder with a magnificent finger tip save to deny a rasping long range effort.
Yet again the Royals number one had to be on top form after 73 minutes, flinging himself low to his right to turn Neil Mellor's cracked drive round the post. However he could get nowhere the former Liverpool man's next effort - but was relieved to his effort ping back off the post from distance.
The woodwork would also prove Preston's undoing a minute later, as Wallace's curling effort again crashed off the post - and hearts were in mouths for the travelling Reading fans as their side desperately tried to cling on for an away victory.
Substitute Jon Parkin was the next to have an effort on goal for the home side, as he spun before clipping an impressive first time volley just wide of Federici's goal.
Preston's life-line came after 85 minutes however, as Parkin was hauled down at the back post by Reading sub Matt Mills - and the giant striker picked himself up to convert from the penalty spot.
As four minutes of time were added on the tension was almost unbearable for the men from the Madejski, and the game came to a dramatic climax as Federici pulled off another incredible save to deny Parkin from close range in stoppage time.