READING FC’s defensive frailties were under the spotlight as they slipped to a 3-2 defeat to Bristol City at Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Nigel Pearson’s Robins were two goals to the good inside 15 minutes as Andreas Weimann and Chris Martin capitalised on Royals’ questionable marking from set-pieces.

Femi Azeez gave the hosts a glimmer of hope of making a comeback before Weimann added his second after the break.

Skipper Liam Moore’s 81st minute pile driver then set the game up for a high-octane finish but the visitors held out to claim all three points.

Veljko Paunovic was handed a major blow before the game with star striker Lucas Joao set for a spell on the sidelines.

The Serbian named George Puscas in his starting XI to replace Joao – despite the Romanian international’s recent slump in form.

Meanwhile, teenager Jahmari Clarke was named on the bench on his 18th birthday.

Royals got off to a shocking start and found themselves a goal behind after just five minutes.

A long throw from the right fell perfectly to an unmarked Andreas Weimann to head beyond Rafael.

Boss Paunovic, who had recently criticised his team’s marking from set-pieces, would have been left furious when Nigel Pearson’s side doubled their lead on 14 minutes.

Andy James’ free-kick was nodded into the path of former Royal Chris Martin who made no mistake from six yards out.

But Reading refused to go down without a fight and came up with an almost immediate reply as a Josh Laurent cross found its way to youngster Femi Azeez at the far post.

The fleet-footed-forward had little time to compose himself but blasted a powerful strike into the top corner to claim his second goal in as many games.

Royals thought they had brought themselves level when Ethan Bristow’s cross landed at Tom McIntyre’s feet but the academy graduate’s shot was deflected away for a corner.

The home side were comfortable in possession as they dominated the ball but seemed bereft of creativity whenever they moved forward. New signing Tom Dele-Bashiru was handed his debut at half-time, replacing teenager Bristow.

But the visitors started the second half in similar fashion to the first and restored their two-goal cushion after 52 minutes.

Royals were at sixes and sevens at the back as a low cross found its way to Weimann who rounded Rafael before finishing with aplomb.

Reading thought they were unfairly denied a penalty after 63 minutes when Puscas’ strike appeared to cannon off of a trailing arm.

However, referee Andy Woolmer waved away the protests. Desperate for a way back into the tie, the home side piled men forward but struggled to break down Robins’ resilient defence.

Dele-Bashiru’s cushioned header nearly fell at the feet of McIntyre in the six-yard box but the ball was hooked away for a corner with 75 minutes on the clock.

Reading did eventually get themselves back in contention as captain Liam Moore produced an early contender for goal of the season.

The Jamaican international centre-back outmuscled Han-Noah Massengo on the halfway line before driving up the pitch and lashing a shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

Paunovic’s side had their hearts in their mouths when Kasey Palmer’s strike smashed against the upright on 89 minutes.

Striker Weimann thought he had bagged a hat-trick but fired the rebound straight at goalkeeper Rafael.

Royals pushed for last-gasp equaliser but Pearson’s Robins held firm to claim their first three points of the Championship season.

Reading FC: Rafael, Yiadom, Moore, Morrison, McIntyre, Bristow (Dele-Bashiru, 45), Laurent, Rinomhota, Swift, Azeez, Puscas (Clarke, 77)

Subs not used: Southwood, Holmes, Tetek, Camara, Leavy

Bristol City FC: Bentley, Simpson, Dasilva, Atkinson, James, Martin, King (Massengo, 50), Weimann, Pring, Kalas, Scott (Palmer, 66).

Subs not used: O’Leary, Bakinson, Baker, Wells, Wyner, Referee: Andy Woolmer