Royals had won five out of seven Championship matches before Saturday's clash including a sensational 3-1 win at big-spending Queens Park Rangers the previous weekend.

But Adkins' men slumped to their second successive loss at Madejski Stadium when Craig Conway’s 36th minute strike secured all three points for Gary Bowyer’s Rovers.

Reading held on to sixth place in the Championship, but they now trail second-placed Burnley by 13 points and their hopes of clinching automatic promotion are virtually over.

With seventh-placed Wigan Athletic only one point behind Royals and with a game in hand, Adkins’ men will now switch their focus to securing a play-off berth over the run-in.

Royals’ manager, left, said: “We’ve let our momentum slip away a little bit, which is a shame.

“I thought we started well, put the ball in good areas, but conceded a goal when we got done on the counter attack.

“It was from our own free kick, we’d left two players back. There is a suggestion of a foul on Chris Gunter, but they scored and it gave them something to hang on to.

“They defended well, it was stop-start with free kicks left right and centre. The ball was out of play a lot and took a long time to come back, there was no flow.

“Credit to Blackburn because they came with a game plan and took all the points.”

Reading lacked a spark against Rovers forcing Adkins to make a rare triple substitution on the hour.

Royston Drenthe came on only to waste a clear-cut chance when he blazed wide.

And the home side were also denied a clear penalty on 67 minutes when Rovers’ defender Matt Kilgallon handled the ball on the ground to prevent Adam Le Fondre from shooting from 10 yards out with only keeper Paul Robinson to beat.

The incident angered Adkins who declared: “With 30 minutes to go we tried to force the issue with a triple substitution. Then it was a clear penalty, and that’s two games against Blackburn now when we’ve had penalties not given.

“Alfie was six yards from goal, about to shoot and the lad scoops the ball away with his hand. You look at the video and think ‘wow’. Who knows what would have happened if it had gone in?

“So it wasn’t a great game, but we’ve got to pick ourselves up for the next one. We’ve got an honest bunch of players all working hard. It was slow, scrappy, and a shame because the players have been working so hard.”

Royals hope to bounce back this Saturday when they host basement club Yeovil Town at Madejski Stadium (3pm ko).

“The atmosphere in the stadium on Saturday was great at times,” added Adkins. “We’ll draw a line under the defeat, debrief the game and go again.

“Next week is another home game, every match presents its different challenges. Saturday wasn’t to be but now we start preparing for the next one.”