Nottm Forest 4 (Antonio 14, 46, Fryatt 53, Assombalonga 63)
A very young Royals side suffered a disappointing afternoon at the City Ground as Stuart Pearce's clinical table-topping Forest side hit us for four.
Nigel Adkins' inexperienced side will have felt a little hard done by, going in at half-time trailing by one goal thanks to former Royal Michail Antonio's precise far post header.
But a blistering first 15 minutes of the second half saw Forest take total control and end the Royals' resistance, with Antonio notching a second before close range finishes from Matty Fryatt and Britt Assombalonga.
The visitors kept plugging away and refused to let their heads drop, but couldn't break through Forest's defence. And now the squad will need to regroup ready for a trip to Scunthorpe on Tuesday night.
- Antonio header gives Forest half-time lead
- Three early second half strikes seal big win for Forest
- Blackman comes closest for the Royals
- Norwood and Tshibola come on to make Royals debuts
Nottm Forest: Darlow, Harding (Lichaj HT), Mancienne, Fryatt, Cohen (c), Assombalonga, Reid, Fox, Hunt, Antonio (Osborn 74), Burke (Paterson 74).
Subs not used: Veldwijk, De Vries, McLaughlin, Tesche.
Reading: Federici, Gunter (c), Cummings, Pearce, Hector; Obita (Tshibola 85'), Kuhl, Taylor (Norwood '57), Edwards (Tanner '60), Blackman, Cox.
Subs not used: McCarthy, Cooper, Akpan, Stacey.
Referee: Mr A Woolmer
The Royals made a positive start to the match, enjoying spells of possession inside the Forest half. On four minutes Jake Taylor stole possession before winning a free-kick in a promising position. Obita's delivery however fell straight into the hands of Forest keeper Darlow.
Forest found their feet enjoying more of the possession and forced the first corner of the game on 10 minutes that was confidently punched away by Federici.
It was on 14 minutes that the Forest faithful thought they had found their way through the Royals defence, but Royals shot stopper Adam Federici was off his line quickly to smother the ball at the feet of Andy Reid.
The deadlock was broken on 16 minutes when former Royal Michail Antonio
rose to head home from 8 yards. The ball looped over keeper Federici, hit the underside of the crossbar before finding the net.
From a Royals corner on 19 minutes the ball fell kindly to Antonio who ran the length of the pitch before an expertly timed tackle by Alex Pearce sent the ball out for a Forest corner.
The Royals got behind the Forest defence for the first time on 25 minutes when Gunter and Blackman linked up well to set Gunter free inside the Forest box. Gunter's ball fell between both Taylor and Cox unfortunately and went out for a Forest throw in.
On 29 minutes a corner routine between Andy Reid and Chris Burke saw the latter have a chance to shoot, the ball comfortably sailed over the bar. And the Royals got a glimpse of goal only a minute later, Jordan Obita's well hit shot went wide of Darlow's left hand post.
On 33 minutes Federici was tested from a Forest corner. Andy Reid's ball was knocked back into the box by Assombalonga giving Fox the chance to head goalwards. The Aussie was equal to the effort and Cummings had the opportunity to clear.
A real chance for the Royals on 38 minutes when a ball long was nodded on by Cox and found itself at the feet of Aaron Kuhl. Kuhl's scuffed shot was scewed wide of the target though.
Reading finished the half strongly, winning a corner thanks to good pressing from Nick Blackman. The ball in was good but was nodded away by Assombalonga before Kuhl found Obita wide on the flank. Obita sent a menacing ball into the Forest box, but his Royals teammates couldn't capitalise, the ball skidding just beyond Hector at the far post.
Ryan Edwards unleashed a shot that was blocked on 42 minutes and Hector subsequently had his effort blocked before a deflected Blackman shot sailed into the hands of Karl Darlow.
There was another chance for the Royals in the second minute of added time as Ryan Edwards broke free and attacked the Forest defence before playing in Simon Cox, who sets himself up well but fired wide from 18 yards.
Forest's second came just one minute after the break with Michail Antonio
scoring his second goal of the game. Jack Hunt sent in the cross from the right hand side for Antonio to stab home past a scrambling Federici from 12 yards.
There was further woe for the Royals on 53 minutes when Forest's Matty Fryatt
got on the end of a cross from the left wing to head home from the penalty spot.
The Royals looked to get back into the game when Shaun Cummings went forward beating several Forest defenders in the process. The left-back had to be happy with a corner, which saw Alex Pearce head wide.
Oliver Norwood came on to make his Royals debut, replacing Jake Taylor, and Craig Tanner replaced Ryan Edwards soon after.
The Royals conceded a fourth on 63 minutes when they failed to clear a Forest corner. A melee ensued before Britt Asombalonga
slammed home from 6 yards out.
A great chance for the Royals came with 20 minutes remaining, when some fantastic link up play saw Blackman free to strike. Blackman's fierce drive was saved well by Darlow and cleared.
More enterprising running from Craig Tanner saw the youngster clear before being brought down on the edge of the Forest box. The ball into the box was cleared away by a Forest head and it was Adam Federici in action towards the end of the game, pulling off a fantastic save to deny Andy Reid.
Nick Blackman made a foray into the Forest box on 79 minutes and felt that he ought to have won his side a penalty. Referee Andy Woolmer felt otherwise however giving a freekick Forest's way and booking the Royals player in the process.
Chris Cohen volleyed goalwards from a corner, however the Royals manage to block and clear the ball and after five minutes of injury time, the referee called to an end a disappointing afternoon for the Royals.
Nigel Adkins' young side had some good spells, especially in the first half, but were outplayed over the course fo 90 minutes and invariably came unstuck against our more clinical hosts, who went top of the table with that victory.