READING FC claimed their first win of the season with a deserved 2-1 victory over Preston North End at Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Goals from Femi Azeez and John Swift came either side of a Daniel Johnson penalty as goalkeeper Rafael produced a moment of magic in stoppage time to hand Royals all three points.

New signing Tom Dele-Bashiru was named on the bench as boss Veljko Paunovic named an unchanged starting XI from the side which lost 3-2 away to Stoke City on the opening weekend.

Reading did opt for a slight change in system however as they switched to a back three, allowing Femi Azeez to partner Lucas Joao up front.

Royals almost got off to a perfect start when Joao’s clever flick found Andy Rinomhota free inside the box. However, the midfielder mistimed his volley and sent the ball wide of Daniel Iversen’s net.

The visitors were handed a golden chance themselves on the 10-minute mark when Darnell Johnson’s clever through ball found ex-Celtic forward Scott Sinclair in the box.

Sinclair had time to pick his spot but the strike was charged down by Royals skipper Liam Moore.

Teenager Ethan Bristow thought he had opened his professional account on 17 minutes following clever work on the flank by Joao.

The twice-capped Portugal international’s cross narrowly evaded an unmarked John Swift before Bristow’s tame strike was easily gathered by Iversen.

Reading took a deserved lead on 27 minutes following sensational work on the left by Josh Laurent.

The midfielder, who is reportedly wanted by three different clubs, stole the ball before fizzing a cross towards the far post. Young forward Azeez was perhaps slightly fortunate with his control before tucking the ball into the back of a gaping net.

The 20-year-old clearly had fire in his belly and nearly doubled his tally moments later but fired a powerful strike narrowly wide of the goal.

Reading continued to mount pressure and John Swift found himself with time on the left with 41 minutes gone but his cross was headed narrowly wide by Joao.

The home side started the second half in quick fashion and should have been two goals to the good shortly after the restart.

Swift’s delicately-threaded through ball was perfect for Joao to run onto but the striker – who had time to pick his spot – crashed the shot against the upright.

Playmaker Swift, who is enjoying a bright start to the campaign, was denied another assist moments after when Azeez latched onto an outside of the boot pass before shooting wide.

Against the run of play, Frankie McAvoy’s Lilywhites were gifted an equaliser on the hour mark when defender Sean Morrison was deemed to have handled the ball inside the box.

Midfielder Daniel Johnson stepped up and tucked his penalty hard and low to Rafael’s left, leaving the Brazilian goalkeeper helpless despite guessing the right way.

Buoyed on by the roaring crowd at Select Car Leasing Stadium – for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak – Royals refused to let the equaliser quash their momentum.

The home side regained their lead after 69 minutes after quick interchange play on the edge of the box found its way to Swift, who claimed his second goal in as many games.

Reading should have made it 3-1 when they found themselves in a three against two situation on the edge of the Preston box.

Azeez, who had driven Royals up the pitch, had options either side but selfishly went for goal – scuffing his strike well wide in the process.

The visiting fans thought their side had equalised again five minutes from time but their premature celebrations were cut short when Alan Browne’s header nestled into the side netting.

Rafael then produced a superb save deep into stoppage time to deny Brad Potts and ensure Royals claimed their first win of the season.

Reading FC: Rafael, Yiadom, Moore, Morrison, McIntyre, Rinomhota, Laurent, Azeez, Swift, Bristow, Joao (Puscas, 83)

Subs not used: Southwood, Holmes, Tetek, Dele-Bashiru, Leavy, Clarke.