It was not a classic. But Birmingham City edged a disjointed, scrappy affair to earn the spoils at Madejski Stadium this afternoon.
The opening minutes saw Matt Miazga involved in both penalty boxes, comfortably seeing out a Birmingham City cross into the box at one end before glancing a header across the Blues area having connected with Pele's corner at the near post.
And the US intertnational was in action again, half charging down a strike from Jude Bellingham on the edge of the penalty area after Richards had been robbed of possession on the Blues' right flank. Richards nearly made a positive impact at the other end though, crossing in towards Meite only to see his ball cut out and put behind for a corner by a last ditch City lunge.
Miazga got his head to the resulting corner and had the same head in his hands as his downward effort dropped just wide of the right post.
A scrappy spell ensued, neither team able to string a sequence of passes together or mount a meaningful attack as a number of injuries were treated to made the game even more stop-start.
A little bit of skill from the fast-footed McCleary on the corner of the City box saw him squeeze between defenders and slide a ball into the unmarked Meite, but the striker tried to sweep it goalwards first time with his left foot but failed to get a clean connection and trouble Connal Trueman between the posts.
A nice neat exchange between Pele and Yiadom saw the latter thread a ball into the run of Puscas just before the half hour but Truman was quick off his line to smother it at the Romanian's feet.
McCleary again threatened to unlock the City defence with some fine footwork on the left and he battled hard to stab the ball back into the six yard box - where sadly a Birmingham man met it first to clear.
And a half lacking fluidity or much quality ended with an opening goal that was just as scrappy. Michael Morrison stepped in to dispossess Bellingham who was jinking into a shooting position, but the ball spun off his intercepting right leg and past the helpless dive of Rafael to fly inside the right post for an own goal.
However, Reading and Yakou Meite responded before the break could arrive. The Ivorian stooped to head home an inswinging Pele corner - the third in quick succession - and level for the home side and lift Madejski Stadium.
Half-time | Reading 1-1 Birmingham City
The visitors had been forced into two first half changes and Mark Bowen made one of his own at the interval, replacing Miazga with Boye in an attacking tactical switch.
But Birmingham looked to take advantage. Pele backtracked well to dispossess Maghoma, who had beaten Morrison to the ball and broken into the box. And Morrison's passed clearance moments later was cut out by Gimenez who arced a shot across Rafael's goal and just wide.
City were enjoying a fair bit of space in Reading's half and MAghoma nearly took full advantage when he cut in from the left to arrow an effort past Rafael and crashing against the crossbar.
And their dominance at the start of the second half paid off when McCleary conceded a free kick 25 yards from goal, right of centre. Jeremie Bela stepped up and swept a fine set piece past Rafael and into the top left corner to make it 2-1.
The Royals came very close to equalising quickly again, Yiadom winning a corner which Pele delivered into the box and Puscas forcing a fine save from Truman.
Lucas Joao was brought off the bench in place of McCleary and then Charlie Adam was introduced for Pele, but the hosts were struggling to create any sustained spells of pressure.
Rafael in face had to leap to his right to deny Bela a second from a free kick taken from a similar distance and aimed at the same top corner as the first.
However with 12 minutes left on the clock the substitutes nearly came to good effect. Boye won the ball on the edge of his own box and fed Adam who pinged a perfect crossfield ball out to Yiadom in space on the right. He pulled the ball back for Joao who struck a first time effort just over the bar.
Time was running out for the Royals but they were throwing the kitchen sink at their opponents. Adam's floated cross was met by the head of Meite in the middle but a Birmingham defender headed it off his line as it looped towards goal with six minutes remaining.
But any hope of a late leveller was erased when City counter attacked. Gimenez bundled the ball against Morrison's block but it bounced back into the City man's path and he calmly passed the ball home for 3-1 and three points.
There was a fifth goal in injury time but merely a consolation for Mark Bowen's men - Adam delivering a free kick deep into the Birmingham box and Joao lunging a leg out and toe poking the ball over the line from a yard out.
There was time for an up and under from Adam which caused a little panic in the visitors' area in the final few seconds, but too little too late for the Royals.
Full-time | Reading 2-3 Birmingham City
Reading: Rafael, Yiadom, Miazga (Boyé HT), Moore (c), Morrison, Richards, Pelé (Adam 71), Rinomhota, McCleary (Joao 66), Méïté, Pușcaș.
Subs: Walker, Gunter, Loader, Blackett.
Goals: Meite 45
Birmingham City: Trueman, Pedersen, Dean (c), Clarke-Salter (Harding 17), Colin, Bellingham, McEachran (Jutkiewicz 69), Sunjic, Crowley (Maghoma 30), Giménez, Bela.
Subs: Camp, Montero, Davis, Bailey.
Goals: Morrison (og) 41, Bela 59, Gimemez 88
Attendance: 14,103 (1,896 away)
Referee: T Robinson