Reading 1-0 Preston: Mo Barrow hits Royals winner
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 07/04/18 7:10pm
Preston's Championship play-off hopes suffered a setback with a 1-0 defeat at struggling Reading.
Reading went ahead in the 12th minute when Mo Barrow nodded home his 10th goal of the season.
Preston went on to dominate most of the match but could find no way through a resolute Reading defence. Louis Moult struck a post in the first half while Sean Maguire nodded against the crossbar after the break.
Preston sat only three points from the play-off places before kick-off but had suffered a recent dip in form, losing three of their previous four matches.
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They went down 1-0 at home to Derby on Easter Monday, when midfielder Alan Browne missed a penalty.
Reading ended a nine-game winless run by beating QPR 1-0 at home on Good Friday, new manager Paul Clement's first match in charge, but they lost 3-0 at Aston Villa on Tuesday.
In each match, they had a player sent off - striker Yann Kermorgant against QPR, midfielder Dave Edwards at Villa Park.
Reading's safety buffer to the relegation zone had been reduced from five points to just two after Barnsley's 3-2 win over Sheffield United earlier in the day.
They almost fell behind early on when Billy Bodin's shot was well saved by home goalkeeper Vito Mannone and Moult headed over from the rebound.
Reading eventually settled into a rhythm and went ahead in the 12th minute. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson glanced on Liam Kelly's free-kick for Barrow to nod in at the far post.
Preston almost replied immediately, also from a free-kick. Moult took aim from just outside the area, at an angle, but his crisply struck effort hit a post and ricocheted away.
Preston continued to press and Moult should have done better than tamely head over from a Greg Cunningham cross.
Tom Barkhuizen also spurned an opening after running through alone. He shot from 20 yards but it was comfortably parried by Mannone.
Preston almost fell further behind in first-half stoppage time but keeper Declan Rudd clawed away Liam Moore's goalbound header from a Sone Aluko free-kick wide on the right.
However, they could have equalised on two occasions shortly after the interval.
First Bodin volleyed over from close in at the far post from a Cunningham cross then substitute Maguire headed powerfully against the bar, with Mannone beaten, from a Bodin centre.
Preston continued to push forward, crossing the ball with great regularity but unable the pierce the stubborn home defence.
Bodin could have snatched a draw for Preston near the end but, after cutting in from the right, drove tamely across the face of the goal.
Paul Clement: "We're all delighted with the result. It was a grind at times and not dissimilar to the QPR game [also won 1-0]. We scored early on, which gave us confidence, but we had to defend a lot after that. The players were dead on their feet at the end.
"They gave everything to get the win and I'm really pleased about that. That's what you want as a manager when you first come in. It shows that you're up for the fight, that you've got character and a determination to get results."
Alex Neil: "Naturally, our play-off chances have taken a dent. But that result now has to be a distant memory. Everything can change when we play against Leeds at home on Tuesday. A lot of the [top] teams have got to play each other. We've made it a very difficult task for ourselves now.
"We did not do enough today. We conceded that first goal and that turned out to be crucial. But from that point onward, I thought that we controlled the game and created enough opportunities to get back into it and possibly even win it. That's the most frustrating part for us. We did not find that solution to break Reading down."