READING’s automatic promotion hopes took a huge dent following their first loss of 2021 to table-topping Brentford. 

A 3-1 win for the Bees sees them move above Norwich in the Championship table while Reading trail behind in fifth, seven points behind the top-two. 

Despite taking the lead in what was a high-intensity match full of chances, Reading could not hold on and fell to two late strikes from the visitors. 

READ MORE: Player ratings as Reading fall to table-topping Brentford 

The defeat marks the Royals’ first loss in 2021 following an impressive unbeaten start to the calendar year. 

The game started with a flurry of corners for Reading after good early pressure. 

Unfortunately for the Royals, they could not capitalise on these chances and the game set into its rhythm with both teams exchanging possession. 

A half-chance on the edge of the box for the Bees on 20 minutes came to nothing in what was the key chance from the opening quarter of the game. 

But just moments later Reading were awarded a penalty after good work down the left from the Royals. 

The spot-kick came following a pinpoint cross-field pass from defender Michael Morrison to Ovie Ejaria. 

Cutting inside, the winger found Josh Laurent who was upended by Henrik Dalsgaard.

Lucas Joao stepped up to take the spot-kick, squirming the ball into the bottom left despite Bees ‘keeper David Raya getting a strong hand to the strike. 

Brentford responded well and nearly got in down the right after forcing a two-on-two situation. 

But an Omar Richards intervention meant the Bees were denied. 

Just two minutes later, however, Brentford were level after Josh Da Silva managed to wriggle into the box and curl a powerful shot past a stranded Rafael. 

Reading responded well, though, with chances for Lucas Joao and Josh Laurent expertly saved by Raya. 

The second half started with high intensity from both sides but few chances were created and neither team could take advantage of a flurry of set-pieces.

Brentford gained the front-foot midway through the second half as the Royals’ intensity dropped off. 

Despite this, Reading defended well and last-ditch clearances from Omar Richards and man-of-the-match Michael Morrison saved Reading from going behind.

The backline could not hold out, however, as the Bees’ pressure eventually told. 

Brentford took the lead on 86 minutes after a deep cross from the left was met by Ivan Toney, who nodded down for Josh Da Silva to smash past a helpless Rafael. 

The third came moments later when a speculative shot was spilled by ‘keeper Rafael straight into the path of the clinical Toney. 

Brentford played out the game and ran out 3-1 winners.

The Bees go top of the table while Reading trail in fifth.