Bolton strike ends long unbeaten runBolton 1 (Bolger 45)
The Royals are still top of their group with two games to go, but suffered their first defeat in nine games as Bolton Wanderers ran out 1-0 winners at the Reebok Stadium on Thursday night.
Chris Cummins' men dominated the first half but couldn't find a way past the resilient Bolton goalkeeper Jay Lynch - and were dealt a suckerpunch when Bolton's Cian Bolger scored the all important goal on the stroke of half time.
It was a quiet opening few minutes but the Royals were undoubtedly in the ascendancy - Josh Webb picked out Gozie Ugwu with an excellent through ball, but the striker couldn't quite make a connection.
Ugwu had another chance minutes on ten minutes; he chased down Dominic Samuel's pass and fired at goal but Wanderers goalkeeper Lynch did well to parry the ball away.
Reading continued to dominate but were soon thankful for 'keeper Jon Henly. Bolton's Chris Lester scampered down the right before cutting inside, but Henly was equal to the effort.
Henly denied Lester again on the half hour mark as Bolton finally grew into the game, and the hosts took advantage of their dominance and harshly struck and opener on the stroke of half time.
Bolton skipper Bolger rose highest from a free-kick, and headed in off the post to give the Wanderers the lead just a minute before the interval.
Pierce Sweeney, fresh from his winning goal against Norwich, almost found the net again early in the second half when he headed towards goal, but Lynch made a great save to deny him.
Jordan Obita was then allowed time and space to shoot in the box, but agonisingly, his strike was inadvertently blocked by Royals striker Dominic Samuel.
Henly did well to punch a dangerous chance away, before Samuel had Reading's best chance of the game in the 66th minute. He found himself one-on-one with Lynch, but the Bolton 'keeper managed to get something on to it.
Wanderers' attack continued to cause problems but Reading should and could have struck an equaliser when Ugwu unleashed a slot from outside the area - but Lynch got down well to save to deny the forward.
With time running out, the Royals threw everything at the Bolton goal but couldn't find a way past Lynch. Our youngsters will have to lick their wounds quickly ahead of Monday's clash with Crystal Palace.
Reading: Henly, Keown, Webb (Edwards, 69), Tshibola, Sweeney, Partridge, Arnold, Taylor, Ugwu, Samuel, Obita.
Subs not used: Moore, Kelly, McClennan, Dickie