Goals from McIntyre and Semedo returned Reading to the play off places, at least temporarily, with a 2-1 win in a low-quality game against Luton.
A suspected stress fracture kept Reading captain Liam Moore out of the side. This meant a new starting backline for Reading with Morrison and Holmes partnering up in the centre of defence and Esteves and McIntryre in the right and left full-back positions respectively.
Reading started on the front foot and took an early lead. A corner on the left side from Aluko found the run of Tom McIntrye who volleyed firmly into the far corner past Shea in what looked like a move right off of the training ground.
The game settled into a bit of a lull afterwards and descended into a scrappy affair with poor passing a theme throughout. Reading sat off slightly and allowed Luton to grow into the game, utilising the flanks without creating a clear opportunity.
Basic errors were creeping into both teams’ play, not helped by the poor pitch, and when Luton gave Ejaria the ball inside their own box a second goal looked on the cards. However, Baldock wasn’t anticipating the pullback and the ball was smuggled away by Rea.
But it was 2-0 moments later as Rinomhota picked up on a poor Luton pass in the middle of the park. He linked up with Aluko, Semedo and Baldock, with the latter playing Semedo through one on one for a simple finish.
Before half time, McIntyre committed a clumsy foul on the edge of the box that on second viewing looked a penalty. Luton are dangerous from set-pieces, but Moncur opted against causing Reading real problems when he blazed over the crossbar instead.
That was his last action of the day as Moncur, Cranie and Rea were hooked off by Nathan Jones at half time in favour of Norrington-Davies, Dewsbury-Hall and Hylton.
The changes were good for Luton, who started the second half brightly. With play down the right, Collins looked to drive into the box but couldn’t get away a meaningful effort away. Again, poor passing and touches were killing any momentum that Luton looked to build.
It was soon level on the ‘contentious penalty shout’ scoreline, as an Ejaria free-kick led to panic in the Luton box. Morrison won the second ball and was brought down as he got away from his player, but nothing was given.
In positive news for Reading, the first of the long term injuries returned for half an hour as John Swift replaced Semedo. With several more players to return, fans will hope that this will be the day the tide turns on the injury crisis.
Dewsbury-Hall created Luton’s first meaningful opportunity with a corner from the left side. He found Berry in space near the penalty spot, whose header was straight at Rafael.
With 15 minutes left, Luton had another opportunity as substitute Norrington-Davies whipped in a pacy delivery towards Hylton and Collins. It was Hylton who rose highest but he couldn’t direct the ball on target.
Harry Cornick’s introduction started to create problems for the hosts with his long throws and crosses from the right, but no Hatter could finish any of them off.
But Reading wouldn’t keep a clean sheet, and it was the same problem yet again. Kazenga Lua Lua found himself in between the lines behind Rinomhota, his 25 yard shot in plenty of space bounced under the arm of Rafael and in for 2-1.
But that was to be all as the Royals saw out a nervy last couple of minutes with no further chances. It was by no means a classic between two teams with all of their creative players starting on the bench.
Reading climb into the top six, with an away trip at promotion contenders Swansea on the 30th. Luton host Bristol the day before as they bid to bounce back to winning ways.