READING FC's fight for survival took on a positive twist after beating high-flying Preston North End 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.

Preston had won their last six away matches but goals from Yakou Meite and Mo Barrow ensured three crucial points as the Royals climbed to 19th place in the Championship.

The visitors did attempt to stage a late comeback and managed to grab a last-minute consolation goal through Jayden Stockley.

Reading however held on to make it three wins in their last four home matches, kick-starting a crucial relegation run-in on a positive note.

The Royals looked threatening on the counter-attack early on and Andy Yiadom had a claim for a penalty when he danced his way between two players inside the box, but referee Tony Harrington insisted no foul was committed.

Ivorian forward Meite made his international debut in the week and the former Paris Saint Germain man broke the deadlock for Jose Gomes' side.

John Swift split the Preston defence to pieces with a through ball that sent Barrow racing down the left wing. He fizzed a cross into the box towards the unmarked Meite, who had a gaping goal to fire into on 30 minutes.

Barrow turned from provider to finished in the 37th minute as he seized on an under-hit Ben Davies backpass before skipping beyond helpless keeper Declan Rudd to double the advantage.

Reading could have added a third goal on the stroke of half-time as Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria cut onto his favoured right foot before curling a shot that Rudd did well to palm onto the far post at full stretch.

Jamaican international Garath McCleary nearly made an immediate impact as a second-half substitute as he broke free of the Preston backline and squared the ball to Ejaria, who looked set to tap the ball into the net.

Unfortunately Ejaria misjudged the path of the ball and squandered the opportunity to finish the game off.

Royals club captain Paul McShane made his long-awaited return to first team football in the 65th minute as he came on to replace Swift.

Meite had a clear-cut penalty shout turned down when he appeared to have been hacked down inside the box, but referee Harrington waved away his pleas.

Preston had to end the game with 10men as the brave Ben Pearson, who played for much of the second half with an injury, limped off with three minutes left on the clock.

The visitors did eventually get a goal back when Stockley rifled the ball into the back of the net after a strike from Sean Maguire cannoned back off the post.

It was too little too late however as the Royals held on to claim a priceless victory.

Reading travel to 12th in the table Hull City, who won 2-0 at bottom side Ipswich Town last weekend, this Saturday (3pm).