PRESSURE mounted on Reading FC boss Jaap Stam as Royals fell to a third straight defeat following a 2-0 loss against Bristol City.

The Dutchman’s side’s lacklustre form continued and goals from second-half substitutes Jamie Paterson and Lloyd Kelly were enough to send Reading fans home disappointed on a miserable Boxing Day afternoon.

In truth, the visitors were sluggish from the off and failed to capitalise on a number of half-chances.

The result means Royals are without a win in four Championship matches as their dismal run of form continues.

Stam made two changes to his starting line-up with the fit-again George Evans replacing Liam Kelly while Jon Dadi Bodvarsson came in for Yann Kermorgant.

Royals got off to a slow start at Ashton Gate as high-flying City dominated possession in the opening stages. Reading’s passing was lacklustre at best meanwhile, as they struggled to keep hold of the ball.

Vito Mannone was called into action after five minutes when he tipped Josh Brownhill’s effort over the bar, but referee Oliver Langford had already blown his whistle.

Icelandic international Bodvarsson capitalised on a loose ball and thundered a strike towards Frank Fielding’s goal with 15 minutes on the clock, but his effort was well blocked by the Robins’ defence.

The former Wolverhampton Wanderers striker was in the thick of it once again moments later when he slid a pass wide for the onrushing Mo Barrow. The Gambian steadied himself before dragging a shot wide of the post.

A training ground set-piece from Hordor Magnusson fell perfectly for Aden Flint inside Royals’ box, but the defender’s glancing effort drifted wide of Mannone’s post with 23 minutes gone.

Chris Gunter injected more urgency into Royals’ play with a lung-busting run down the right flank. He linked up with Dave Edwards before the ball was slipped towards Bodvarsson, but the pass was mis-placed and the hosts gathered possession once again.

Marlon Pack found himself in referee Langford’s book on 40 minutes for a cynical challenge and perhaps could have seen red just a minute later when he brought down the speedy Barrow.

Royals squandered an opportunity to take the lead early in the second-half when Liam Moore lashed a volley over the bar following Sone Aluko’s corner kick.

But the hosts quickly went on the front foot and could have had a penalty awarded when Joey van den Berg appeared to bring down Bobby Reid inside the box.

Aluko was then narrowly beaten to the ball when Fielding parried a Barrow effort towards the on-rushing forward. The former Fulham player looked certain to put Reading ahead but for a well-timed challenge with an hour gone.

Edwards then flicked an Aluko corner towards goal, but his glancing effort sailed narrowly wide of Fielding’s goal.

However, pressure mounted on Reading once again when Paterson gave the hosts a deserved lead.

He got on the end of a fine passing move before curling the ball beyond the helpless Mannone and into the top corner.

With 75 minutes on the clock, Stam threw on Kermorgant and Garath McCleary as Royals found themselves staring defeat in the face once again.

The duo almost made an immediate impact when a McCleary cross was taken away from Kermorgant’s head with the goal gaping.

Stam’s final throw of the dice saw Roy Beerens replace Evans as Royals chased a single goal with six minutes left on the clock.

But the hosts kept coming and Mannone was forced into a stunning double save, denying both Brownhill and Reid in quick succession.

The hosts remained resilient in the final minutes and looked certain to hold on to all three points.

And Royals’ fate was well and truly sealed in the dying minutes when late substitute Kelly doubled Robins’ advantage with a deflected effort.

Reading FC: Mannone, Gunter, Bacuna (McCleary, 75), McShane, Moore, Van den Berg, Evans (Beerens,84), Edwards, Aluko, Barrow, Böðvarsson (Kermorgant, 75).

Subs not used: Jaakkola, Beerens, Ilori, Clement, Blackett.

Bristol City FC: Fielding, Wright, Flint, Baker (Paterson, 49) (Kelly,90), Magnusson, Brownhill, Pack, Smith, Bryan, Reid, Taylor (Woodrow, 63).

Subs not used: Steele Vyner, Leko, Eliasson.