A youthful Reading U23 side lost out to fellow promotion hopefuls, Aston Villa, in the Premier League 2 on Monday night.
Joseph Mendes continued his recovery from injury with another half of football, and found himself on the scoresheet as he put the Royals ahead after just eight minutes, intercepting goalkeeper Matija Sarkic's short pass and firing in.
A young and relatively inexperienced defensive line stood up well to the test the title challengers posed in the first half, but their resistance was broken after James Finnerty's header hit the crossbar - only to take an unfortunate ricochet off goalkeeper Liam Driscoll to take the ball over the line.
The scores were level on the hour mark, but Villa took the lead after a low cross from Callum O'Hare was turned in by Reading defender Teddy Howe in another stroke of bad luck for Scott Marshall's team.
The result was made certain four minutes later, with Villa striker Rushian Hepburn-Murphy latching onto a pass from Jake Doyle-Hayes to fire past Driscoll into the bottom corner.
Unfortunately, this result sees the Royals fall out of mathematical contention for the league title, but the play-offs are still reachable for Scott Marshall's side as they fight for promotion to the Premier League 2 Division One.
Just two matches remain for the young Royals in the regular season, with Newcastle their next opponents in a month's time.
Reading U23: Driscoll, Howe, Shokunbi, Odimayo, Green, Balogun (Coleman 64), East, Rollinson (Wilson 81), Frost, House, Mendes (Nolan 46).
Subs: Rosario, Omolabi