Two second half strikes from high-flying Bristol City were enough to earn the Robins victory in a tight Boxing Day affair at Ashton Gate
- A goalless first half is closely contested but neither keeper is really tested
- Substitute Jamie Paterson breaks the deadlock with a stunning top corner finish
- Barrow is twice denied by Frank Fielding as the Royals seek an equaliser.
- An injury time second from Lloyd Kelly ends Royals hopes of a comeback
Jaap Stam made two changes to the side that lost at home to Burton before Christmas, handing George Evans a start - his first involvement in the squad since suffering an injury back in mid-September. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was also given a place in the elevent, replacing Yann Kermorgant up front.
The first action in front of goal saw Josh Brownhill rifle a good effort on target from the edge of a box, but the referee had already blown for a Royals free kick after a foul in the box following a long Magnusson throw into the Reading area.
At the other end, Bacuna came very close to supplying a perfect throughball for Barrow but it had just too much on it for the Royals winger to get a toe to it before the onrushing Frank Fielding could intercept it.
Bodvarsson won the ball in an advanced position with a quarter of an hour played, but as he turned and pulled the trigger from the edge of the box, a Bristol City body charged it down.
And Reading worked a great opportunity to shoot when Bacuna played the ball into Edwards in space, he laid it off to Bodvarsson who in turn played in Barrow in space down the left side of the City box. But Barrow dragged his effort across the face of goal and wide.
On the half hour mark, the hosts broke at pace from a cleared Leandro free kick but George Evans did well to keep pace with the counter attack and forced it wide, the low cross eventually being hacked clear from the edge of the six yard box.
And that allowed the home side to build up a head of steam, Liam Moore needing to clear the ball from inside the six yard box after a good knock down from a floated cross from left to right. Then Taylor headed a good chance harmlessly over the bar soon after.
With five minutes of the first half remaining, Bacuna delivered a deep set piece into Moore on the corner of the Bristol City box, and the centre-back brought it down well and hooked an ambitious effort towards goal but well wide.
Then another promising Reading move came through the middle as Aluko fed Bodvarsson who touched the ball into the overlapping run of Edwards - but he ran out of space to get a shot away and the ball ricocheted off him and behind for a goal kick.
Half time | Bristol City 0-0 Reading
Reading won an early corner and Aluko's inswinging delivery was cleared only as far as Moore 15 yards out. He tried to hook a right-footed effort at goal, but he scuffed his shot and the Robins were able to hoof it clear.
But it took an excellent piece of defending from Van den Berg to deny Bobby Reid a clear shot at goal after Bacuna's misplaced pass had allowed Lee Johnson's side to break the Royals' back line.
At the other end, Aluko cut inside from the right and scuttled along the edge of the Bristol City area but he arrowed just over with his left-footed effort.
Then Barrow fizzed a fine low cross into the box from the left and Fielding had to palm it away from his six yard box, just out of the reach of the lurking Aluko.
With 25 minutes left, Barrow won a corner on the right which Aluko swept into the near post. Edwards stooped to loop a header goalwards but a City defender nodded it over the bar for another corner.
Moments later, a lofted ball was flicked on by McShane, still in an advanced position, but Bodvarsson turned and shot in one motion only to fire it high over the crossbar.
And somewhat against the run of play, the Robins took the lead at the other end. A nice exchange of passes in the final third ended with the ball at the feet of substitute Jamie Paterson who picked out the top corner with a quite unstoppable effort.
Garath McCleary and Yann Kermorgant were brought onto the pitch and the two combined soon after being brought on, McCleary crossing for the Frenchman but Kermorgant muscled out at the back post as the travelling fans appealed for a penalty for holding on the striker.
Mannone gobbled up a downward header from Flint and was then illegally and cynically fouled by Woodrow as he looked to release the ball early for a counter attack.
Mannone had to make two saves in quick succession to deny the hosts a second, parrying Brownhill's drive at the near post and then down well to save from Reid. Then at the other end, substitute Roy Beerens' deflected strike looped over the City defence and Aluko was nearly able to stab it goalwards only for Flint to wrestle it back to Fielding.
And Reading had a great chance to level in the last minute of the ninety - Beerens' deflected cross was volleyed goalwards by McCleary and it dropped to Barrow six yards out with only Fielding to beat - but the City keeper scrambled across his goalline to shovel it around his post.
And in injury time, Fielding was down low to his left to denu Barrow again - a long ball forward from McShane flew over Flint and Kermorgant and into the feet of Barrow who turned into a shooting position but was foiled by the City stopper.
And any hope of a late equaliser was quashed when the home side scored a second - substitute Lloyd Kelly drilling home a left-footed effort that deflected past Mannone in the Reading goalmouth.
Full time | Bristol City 2-0 Reading
Bristol City: Fielding, Bryan, Flint, Wright (c), Baker (Paterson 49 (Kelly 90), Smith, Brownhill, Taylor (Woodrow 63), Reid, Pack, Magnusson.
Subs: Steele, Eliasson, Vyner, Leko.
Yellow: Baker, Pack, Woodrow
Goals: Paterson 68, Kelly 90
Reading: Mannone, Bacuna (McCleary 75), Gunter, McShane (c), Moore, Van den Berg, Evans (Beerens 84), Edwards, Aluko, Barrow, Bodvarsson (Kermorgant 75).
Subs: Jaakkola, Blackett, Ilori, Clement.
Yellow: Aluko, Bacuna
Referee: Mr O Langford
Att: 23,116 (1,115 away)