A stunning solo goal from Reading FC’s John Swift snatched Royals a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Barnsley, writes Courtney Friday.

Veljko Paunovic’s side had been toothless in attack throughout the game and were perhaps lucky not to go behind on several occasions.

But just when the game looked destined to be a bore draw, Swift grabbed it by the scruff to net his eighth goal of the campaign.

The win sees Royals close the gap on the top six while the visitors’ early season slump continues.

Despite the ongoing injury crisis, Royals were finally able to name a recognised back four with Liam Moore and Scott Dann both deemed fit to start.

There was a boost from the bench too with young forward Femi Azeez returning from a hamstring injury which scuppered his electric start to the campaign.

Reading started the afternoon on the edge of the play-off spots while the visitors were rooted firmly within a relegation scrap following just one win in their opening 11 fixtures.

The match got off to a timid start with neither side really threading to carve out an opening inside the first 15 minutes.

Ovie Ejaria, making his 100th appearance for the club, was sent charging towards goal with 16 minutes on the clock but scuffed a tame shot straight at Brad Collins.

Moments later, Tykes’ skipper Caluey Woodrow thought he had opened the scoring against the run of play with a long-range drive which was tipped just wide by Luke Southwood.

Watford loanee Tom Dele-Bashiru did have the ball in the back of the net after a wonderful pass from Ovie Ejaria but the young midfielder was righty flagged offside.

Reading looked to carve the visiting defence apart when Danny Drinkwater threaded a delicate pass for Baba Rahman to run onto.

The pair, both on loan from Chelsea, combined well but the latter found himself forced to the ground as Callum Brittain picked up the first booking of the game.

Ex-Chelsea man and in-form midfielder John Swift went for goal from the resulting free-kick but his effort straight at goalkeeper Collins.

Woodrow found himself with time and space on the right with 36 minutes gone but his cross was sent flying over the crosssbar by Aaron Iseka, who really should have done better.

Summer signing Scott Dann, making his full debut and 400th career league start, forced Collins into a smart save after finding himself unmarked from a corner on the stroke of half time.

The visitors started the second half in bright fashion and Royals’ goalie Southwood had his post to thank for preventing Callum Brittain from netting the opening goal with a thunderous volley.

In truth, Reading looked like they were struggling to deal with Markus Schlopp’s team as they continued to pile numbers forward.

Josh Laurent, who had endured a tough start to the game, nearly netted one for the history books with a brave effort from some 60 yards after the goalkeeper had come rushing off of his line.

Clearly bemused by his side’s lack of attacking threat, Paunovic replaced George Puscas with Azeez just after the hour mark.

The young forward nearly made an immediate impact after being set through on goal by Swift but he opted to cut inside onto his favoured left foot before firing straight at the recovering defender.

Reading piled forward again and Rahman’s deflected strike looked destined for the back of the net but Colins somehow got a hand to it.

The hosts did take an undeserved lead with 77 minutes gone as their in-form talisman once again grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck with a stunning solo goal.

Swift picked the ball up on the left-wing before darting into the box, skipping past a defender and rounding the goalkeeper before tucking the ball into the bottom corner for 1-0.

The travelling Tykes probed for an equaliser but Royals stayed calm at the back to continue their charge towards the Championship top six.

Royals will welcome Blackpool to Select Car Leasing Stadium on Wednesday (8pm ko).