READING FC crashed to a fourth defeat in five Championship matches as their relegation worries intensified.

Chris Martin's late strike was a mere consolation after an Adama Traore brace had given Boro a comfortable lead at the Riverside.

The loss leaves Royals just four points above the drop zone after a dreadful run that has produced a mere one win from their last 12 league matches including eight defeats.

And while the pressure increases on manager Jaap Stam, there appears to be little light at the end of the tunnel.

Reading's next four games are a six-pointer at Nottingham Forest followed by clashes against Derby County and Wolves - the division's top two sides - plus play-off chasing Sheffield United.

Few would back Stam's men to come away with many points from that run given their shocking form since early December.

But a drastic improvement is needed or Royals could find themselves slipping into the bottom three before they know it.

Stam's men were under the cosh from the first whistle on Saturday as Boro looked to bombard their box with a series of free-kicks and long throws.

Rudy Gestede headed narrowly over Vito Mannone's bar from a Ryan Shotton throw in.

Stam's men replied when Liam Kelly fired wide after Garath McCleary had linked up with Sone Aluko.

Stewart Downing missed the target with a fierce volley from Gestede's assist at the other end.

But just when it seemed Reading would go into the interval on level terms they fell behind in the 44th minute when Traore cut in from the right and slammed the ball past Mannone.

Royals' keeper got a hand to the ball, but there was sufficient power behind it to find the back of the net.

Stam's men rallied with Jon Dadi Bodvarsson testing Darren Randolph in the Boro goal.

But they were soon 2-0 down after Traore struck again four minutes into the second half.

He found space down the right before beating Mannone with a crisp strike from the edge of the box.

If anything, Reading were lucky not to fall even further behind as Patrick Bamford missed from an excellent position then Grant Leadbitter's free-kick thundered against the post with Mannone well beaten.

That was the start of a late Reading fightback that saw Leandro Bacuna volley narrowly wide and Yann Kermorgant go close with a deflected effort.

And it was from the resulting corner kick that Martin pulled one back with his first Royals goal with 12 minutes left on the clock.

Boro failed to clear their lines from the flag-kick and the on-loan Derby striker hit a firm finish into the net from 20 yards to give the visitors a lifeline.

But Stam's men were let of the hook soon after when Britt Assombalonga skied a penalty into the stands after Dave Edwards had tripped Traore.

The miss did not alter the final result as Reading failed to find an equaliser during the hot-tempered final stages and left the Riverside empty handed and with their Championship status hanging by a thread.

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Friend, Ayala, Shotton, Gibson, Leadbitter (c), Bamford (Clayton 66), Howson, Downing (Cranie 90+1), Traore, Gestede (Assombalonga 79). Subs not used: Dimi, Fry, Harrison, Besic. Booked: Friend, Clayton.

Reading: Mannone, Gunter (c), Moore, Ilori, Bacuna, Van den Berg, Edwards, Kelly (Martin 63), Aluko, McCleary (Kermorgant 73), Bodvarsson (Clement 63). Subs not used: Jaakkola, Kermorgant, Blackett, Richards, Smith. Booked: Van den Berg, Gunter, Bacuna.

Referee: Darren Coote.

Attendance: 23,491 (257 Reading).