Nick Blackman's 10th goal of the campaign was enough to secure Reading all three points against Charlton Athletic.
The Addicks were standing firm, but defender Patrick Bauer was dismissed inside the second period for a second yellow. Then Blackman headed in a delightful Lucas Piazon cross for the game's only goal.
Royals boss Steve Clarke handed Ola John a first league start for the fixture, after a handful of sub appearances and a full debut in the Capital One Cup. Meanwhile youngster Rowan Liburd, who has put in an eye-catching goal scoring record for the Under-21s, was handed a first involvement in the first-team squad as he was named on the bench.
After four minutes the Royals forced the first opening of the game, when a cute back-heel from Orlando Sa set Lucas Piazon through on goal. The Brazilian took the ball into the Charlton box forcing a smart save from Nick Pope at his near post.
It was the Reading who had started the better and a couple of minutes later Ola John came close to giving Reading an early lead. His clever run made some space at the edge of the Charlton box but the Dutchman could only fire over from a tight angle.
As the half wore on Charlton began to get more of a foothold in the game, starting to see more of the ball in midfield with neither side creating many chances.
Nearing half-time however the Royals were again pushing for the opening goal of game. Robust defending from the Addicks kept the home side at arm's length, with Oliver Norwood coming closest for Reading. His curling effort from the edge of the box was not quite enough to stop the first half from ending goalless, as it just cleared the Charlton crossbar.
Half-time: Reading 0 Charlton Athletic 0
The second half started in a similar vein with Reading on the front foot. Both Michael Hector and Nick Blackman saw long range efforts fly just over the Charlton bar as the Royals probed for the breakthrough.
Reading continued to press as the second half progressed and on the 63rd minute very nearly found the elusive first goal. A smart move down the right hand side between Gunter, John and Tshibola opened some space up for Piazon who saw his shot deflected wide.
Five minutes later and the Royals were again knocking at the Charlton door but this time with consequences for the visitors. A quick counter attack by the Royals saw Blackman bearing down on the Charlton box, but the attacker was tripped by Patrick Bauer who was already on a booking. The Charlton midfielder was shown his second yellow and the Addicks were reduced to ten men, with Piazon blazing his effort over the bar from the resulting free kick.
The 76th minute saw a deserved Royals breakthrough. Lucas Piazon was again at the heart of the action when Jordan Obita’s pass down the left hand side picked him out. The attacker’s cross found Nick Blackman in the center who made no mistake, firing his header back across goal and into the back of the Charlton net.
With Reading a man up and a goal up, it was a case of keep-ball for the final quarter of an hour - Sa almost doubled the lead late on, but one goal was enough to get all three points.
Full-time: Reading 1 Charlton Athletic 0
: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Obita, McShane, Hector, Norwood, Tshibola (Williams 70), Piazon (Fernandez 86), Blackman, John (McCleary 70), Sa.
Subs: Moore, Taylor, McCleary, Cooper, Liburd.
Goal: Blackman (76).
: Pope, Solly, Bauer, Diarra, Bergdich, Gudmundsson (Fox 62), Cousins, Jackson (Ba 70), McAleny, Moussa (Watt 56), Ahearne-Grant.
Subs: Henderson, Fox, Sarr, Holmes-Dennis, Kennedy.
Sent off: Bauer
Attendance: 17,614 (1,183 away)
Referee: Rob Lewis