Royals leave Cottage empty-handedThe Royals came away empty-handed from a trip to Craven Cottage, as a remarkable second-half turnaround saw Fulham pick up a 4-2 victory.
Lucas Piazon capped a fine team move to give Reading a lead at the break, and Orlando Sa soon doubled the advantage after the restart.
But a remarkable ten-minute spell from the hosts saw them turn a deficit into a lead as Ross McCormack, Moussa Dembele and Alexander Kacaniklic were all on target.
Sa had a header cleared off the line as a leveller wasn't forthcoming - instead it was Dembele who extended the advantage with his second and Fulham's fourth.
Matej Vydra made his first start foir the Royals since the trip to Bristol City five weeks prior. Jordan Obita was the only other change to the starting XI after Reading’s draw with Rotherham on Tuesday night, with Jonathan Bond also returning to the bench.
After a tentative start to the game from both sides, it was Fulham who made the first opportunity after five minutes. A powerful run from Ryan Fredericks on the Fulham wing made space on the edge of the box, but the forward’s cross-shot was well dealt with by Ali Al-Habsi who tipped the effort over his crossbar.
The home side seemed the team in the ascendancy, but on the 12th minute a lightning-fast Reading counter-attack gave the Royals the lead. A quick ball forward to Sa put Reading on the attack, driving into the opposition half. The striker lifted his head and picked out Vydra on the edge of the box, whose first time pass slid Lucas Piazon in on goal; the Brazilian made no mistake with his finish, coolly slotting beyond Joe Lewis in the Fulham goal to hand Reading an early lead.
Four minutes later and Reading came close to doubling their lead through the in-form Nick Blackman. Another counter caught the Cottagers out with Danny Williams finding the forward in space. Blackman took the ball down the right flank before cutting onto his left foot and shooting, but his effort was straight at Lewis.
As the half progressed Reading enjoyed more possession, with Oliver Norwood dictating the ball in midfield for the visitors. The Royals created a couple of half chances as the first period wore on the closest of which was a deflected effort from Piazon that looped just over the Fulham bar.
With the half drawing to a close the home side increased their intensity looking for an equaliser before the break. The Royals defended stubbornly however with score at the break 1-0.
Half-time: Fulham 0 Reading 1
Sa doubled the Royals' advantage soon after the restart - after Tom Cairney's control was loose, the Reading man picked the ball up midway inside the Fulham half and drove at the defence. The Portuguese striker worked space in the right hand side of the box and fired his finish across goal and into the bottom left hand corner.
But the Royals cushion only lasted a minute, however, as Fulham responded in a flurry. The home side played a direct ball to McCormack on the edge of the Reading box, and the attacker turned quickly and found the back of the Reading net with a precise finish.
That goal provedd to reinvigorate the home side and fans, and on the 55th minute Fulham were level. A quick move down the Reading left saw a whipped ball across the Royals six-yard box stabbed home by Moussa Dembele.
Fulham were not finished and two minutes later took the lead through substitute Alexander Kacaniklic. The Royals, who had pushed forward to try and retake their lead, were caught on the counter attack and a quick through ball to Kacaniklic saw him bearing down on goal. The Swede kept his head and slotted his finish past a helpless Al-Habsi.
Reading came close to levelling the scores on the 70th minute when Sa saw his header blocked off the line by Fredericks, as Blackman swung over a corner.
Just as the Royals seemed to be building some momentum, Fulham increased their lead. Combination play on the edge of the Reading box saw Dembele one on one with Al-Habsi and the young striker made an assured finish.
The closest Reading came in reply was through Blackman, but his shot from range missed high and wide as the hosts held on for the points.
Full-time: Fulham 4 Reading 2
Fulham: Lewis, Richards (Kacaniklic 36), Stearman, Ream, Tunnicliffe, Cairney, Fredericks, McCormack, Christensen, Dembele.
Unused subs: Lonergan, Garbutt, Parker, Smith, Woodrow, Burn.
Goals: McCormack (49), Dembele (55, 74), Kacaniklic (57).
Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Obita, Hector, McShane (c), Norwood (Tshibola 70), Williams (Fernandez 85), Piazon (John 70), Blackman, Sa, Vydra.
Unused subs: Bond, McCleary, Hurtado, Cooper.
Goals: Piazon (13), Sa (48).
Referee: Frederick Graham