The Royals fell to a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Wigan Athletic on Wednesday evening, as Kieffer Moore, Jamal Lowe and Michael Jacobs all netted for the visitors.
Wigan had managed to frustrate the Royals' attack throughout and got ahead through Moore's flick - and then another good finish by Lowe doubled the lead after the interval.
And then in the ninth minute of added time, Jacobs finished coolly to compound a disappointing night for everyone of a Reading persuasion.
Reading boss Mark Bowen made three changes to the starting XI – Ovie Ejaria returned after a groin complaint, with Felipe Araruna and Sam Baldock the others to step up.
There was a minute’s delay to the kick-off at Madejski Stadium, as all quarters celebrated the life of one of the heroes of the Elm Park era, Jimmy Wheeler, who had sadly passed away earlier in the week at the age of 86.
The Latics were seeing a lot of the ball in the early exchanges, and a jinking run from Jamal Lowe down the left threatened to pierce the Reading rearguard – he beat Ejaria but ran into traffic as he entered the area.
Direct balls forward at either end – just seconds apart could have brought an opener, one way or the other. Kieffer Moore was the initial target as a ball was blasted upfield, but Rafael was out early to block at the edge of his box. That allowed Michael Morrison to collect and punt up to Baldock, who had broken the offside trap, but the bouncing ball just escaped his grasp.
A spill by stopper David Marshall could have gifted a goal to Yakou Méïté – Pelé was the one to hang up a cross, and the Latics goalie fumbled as he tried to rise above the gathered bodies in the box. The Ivorian forward tried to capitalise but his countryman Cedric Kipre did well to shoulder him out and clear.
The breakthrough came midway through the first half – to the dismay of the Madejski faithful. It was a simple enough build-up, as Gavin Massey worked space to fashion a cross from the right-hand byline. The finish was subtle and devastating – a flick by the backheel of Wigan striker Moore was inch-perfect, nestling low inside the far post.
The Royals sought a reply. And it needed a lunging leg by Leon Balogun to prevent it coming when Swift stabbed a ball through the slightest of gaps for Baldock. The striker’s first touch just showed enough of the ball to the recovering defender, who prevented the Royals man from pulling the trigger.
The frustration grew as the half wore on - the Latics defending resolutely, snappy into the challenge, and coming close to grabbing a second as Kipre's header looped just over the bar as he darted onto a deep cross.
Half-time | Reading 0-1 Wigan Athletic
It needed something different in the second half - and the Royals boss dipped into the subs to introduce Michael Olise and Charlie Adam.
That pair combined to open up the Latics defence early on; a little lay-off by Adam saw Olise inject a bit of pace with a forward burst, but curl over the bar.
Then Adam hung a ball to the far post from a set-piece, which Morrison nodded back into the danger area; it wouldn't stick for Baldock, and Olise sliced his snap-shot wide of target.
Reading were trying to put on the pressure and sent some dangerous deliveries into the area, from dead balls and open play. But the second goal for the visitors was a body-blow. It came when Joe Williams' free-kick was half-cleared, but Lowe took a touch with his left to control before slotting in a half-volley with his right.
Swift won a free-kick on the edge of the area and took it himself, but cleared the crossbar. And then when an Adam cross was half-cleared, Olise trapped and drilled a half-volley at goal. Stopper David Marshall was acrobatically equal to it to deny the teenager his first senior goal for the Royals.
Wigan skipper Sam Morsy could chanced his arm from a free-kick just outside the area after Adam had bundled down Lowe, but Rafael made a flying save and pushed wide. Then the Brazilian stopper had to claw away from the top corner when Wigan sub Lee Evans hit a dipper from wide on the right.
With five minutes left on the clock, an unbelievable triple-save by Marshall kept the margin to two. Adam overlapped on the left and cracked a powerful low effort down the goalkeeper's throat. It was too hot to handle and Baldock was on the scene first, but twice the striker was denied from point-blank range.
Sam Baldock had an opportunity in stoppage time when Méïté nodded down, but fired over.
The game ended late as Chey Dunkley, on as a sub for the visitors, collided with a teammate - it was clear that it was a serious one from the reaction of all players on the scene, as medical attention rushed his way. A sad end to his match, and all at Reading wish him a speedy recovery.
A solo breakaway by Jacobs deep into added time was polished off with a dinked finish - three goals and three points for the visitors.
Full-time | Reading 0-3 Wigan Athletic
Reading: Rafael, Yiadom, Morrison, Moore (c), Richards, Pelé (Adam HT), Araruna (Olise HT), Swift, Ejaria, Méïté, Baldock.
Unused subs: Walker, Rinomhota, Blackett, Masika, Pușcaș.
Yellow: Yiadom, Pelé, Méïté.
Wigan Athletic: Marshall, Byrne, Kipré, Balogun, Roberts (Evans 64), Morsy (c), Williams (Dunkley 88), Pearce, Massey (Jacobs 79), Lowe, Moore.
Unused subs: Gyollai, Pilkington, Mlakar, Garner.
Goal: Moore (23), Lowe (69).
Attendance: 10,088 (177 away).
Referee: Mr G Eltringham