Reading conceded a 96th-minute goal at Shrewsbury Town to throw away a two-goal lead and ensure the winless away run extends over a whole calendar year, losing 3-2.

Sam Smith and Dom Ballard netted two in quick succession during a first-half dominated by the visitors, but Tom Bayliss' strike added pressure before Chey Dunkley and Jason Sraha netted in stoppage time to prevent the first away win in 364 days.

Ruben Selles made just one change from the side that drew 1-1 with Bristol Rovers in midweek, replacing the suspended Charlie Savage with teenage forward Ballard.

Reading, backed by over 1,200 at Croud Meadow, started confidently in Shropshire but gave away the first chance of the game, with Elliott Bennett firing wide after a well-worked corner routine left the former Blackburn Rovers captain free on the edge of the box. Reading went one better moments later, as Smith’s fierce shot was directed on target by Femi Azeez and into the net, only for the referee to prematurely end the celebrations by calling for offside.

There was no danger of offside two minutes later, as David Button’s long punt forward was expertly controlled by Smith and thundered into the top corner off the post to put the visitors in the lead. Three minutes later, it was dreamland for the Royals as Ballard nipped in on the goal line to head over the line past Marko Marosi in the net.

Turning the home ground toxic, shouts for the manager Matt Taylor to leave echoed around the 6,000 in attendance. Smith almost added a second on the 20-minute mark, heading the ball over the bar, and Azeez needed to test Marosi at the back post only for the winger’s touch to give the defenders an opportunity to recover and clear. Bayliss drove an effort wide and Chey Dunkley headed wide as the defence started to creak towards the midway point of the half.

10 minutes before the break and panic stations set in as a pass that looked certain to roll out for a goal kick was inexplicably kept in play by Harvey Knibbs before Bayliss won the ball and slammed past Button to half the deficit. With two out-of-form and nervy teams, the crowd remained on edge as both sides looked to add to their tallies before the half-time break.

A totally different Reading side came out in the second half, with the hosts controlling proceedings. Jordan Shipley saw a volley skew wide within minutes of the start to set the tone for a busy half. Azeez continued to have efforts and miss efforts, in a cruel run in front of goal for the winger. Button was forced into two excellent saves to stem the flow, while the Royals hit the woodwork to keep their hosts nervous.

Selles' substitutions did nothing but egg on the Midlands outfit, knowing they had superior strength and height. Dunkley headed home two minutes into additional time, and his centre-back partner Sraha prodded home three minutes later to speed up the club's fall toward the fourth tier of English football for the first time since the 1980s.

Now heading into an international break, the EFL Trophy and Arsenal Under-21s await in the week before a 10-day break.