Reading U23s suffered a third straight defeat at the hands of fellow play-off hopefuls Burnley U23s who edged the past the Royals thanks to goals at the end of either half that sealed a 2-0 win for the visitors at Bearwood Park.
The Clarets showed their clinical touch despite facing large periods of pressure from the Royals, as the Lancashire side struck just before the break, and just before the final whistle to work their way to three points.
The Royals had the first of two goals ruled out for offside after 11 minutes, as Femi Azeez raced onto a ball over the top, only to see the flag go up as he struck beyond Burnley keeper Lewis Thomas.
That second crossed off strike came seven minutes later, captain Ryan East’s initial effort from distance was parried by Thomas into the path of Jayden Onen, who slotted home from close range - however the officials adjudged Onen’s run to be too late and the goal didn’t stand.
Against the run of play, it was Burnley who took the lead, Anthony Glennon delivered a low cross down the left which found Max Thompson, who composed himself inside the area before placing a strike into the bottom corner beyond the reach of Coniah Boyce-Clarke.
Half-time: Reading U23 0-1 Burnley U23
The Royals, who had been on top for a large part of the second-half went close twice in the space of four minutes to levelling proceedings, but it was fine margins that separated them and the glory of a quick turnaround.
Thierry Nevers worked space for Tennai Watson to cross down the right after 72 minutes, and it was his delivery who found Azeez in the box but the striker couldn’t put a head to the delivery that swept across the goal line.
Four minutes later it was Onen who turned provider, he pulled back a ball to Azeez who raced into the area and shot only to see his effort hit Nevers. The ball fell on the follow up to Mamadi Camara who blasted a volley narrowly wide from 12 yards.
With the game in it's dying embers, and the Royals enjoying most of the ball, Burnley and Thompson struck again, the midfielder found space to shoot on the left side of the 18-yard box, and it was a cruel deflection that saw his shot loop over the back-tracking Boyce-Clarke in the Reading net.
Full-time: Reading U23 0-2 Burnley U23
Mehmet Ali's next chance to get to winning ways comes in 10 days time when they travel to the North East to face Sunderland, a side who got the better of the Royals at Bearwood earlier in the month.
Reading: Boyce-Clarke, Watson, Samuels, East (C), Stickland, Dorsett (Holzman 86'), Leavy (Osorio 79’), Camara, Azeez, Onen, Nevers.
Unused subs: Holden, Lawless, McGiff
Yellow: Watson 90'
Burnley: Thomas, Fountaine (Rain 55’) Nartey, Trailist, Glennon, Thompson, Mancini, Tucker, Costelloe, Mumbongo, Harper (McGlynn 71’)
Unused subs: Allen, Rooney, McCullough
Yellow: Glennon 57’, Williams 62’, Costelloe 90’
Scorer: Thompson 41, 90+2'