Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan's second-half stunner was enough for Reading to earn a valuable 1-0 win over mid-table Northampton Town.

A scrappy game with chances and mistakes at both ends, it took a moment of magic from the Academy graduate to win it inside the final 30 minutes.

The sun was shining, a large crowd was packed in and the vibes were positive after news that Leicester City had lost to Bristol City in the Championship half an hour prior, meaning Reading’s 106-point record points haul from 2005/06 is safe for another year.

Despite this, it was the visitors who settled well and carved open the first chance on target, Jon Guthrie heading into the arms of Joel Pereira from a quickly taken free-kick routine. The Royals offered a threat, and Femi Azeez made life difficult for his opposite number, Manny Monthe, when he was forced to foul him and earn an early booking. Ben Elliott had the first shot for the hosts, but he failed to test Louie Moulden.

It took until almost 30 minutes in for Reading to test the keeper, and they really should have taken the lead. Harvey Knibbs spun well in the box and picked out Sam Smith, but the forward’s header was cleared off the line. Only reaching as far as Charlie Savage on the edge of the box, the Wales international volleyed his effort into the ground and over the bar.

Cobblers legend Sam Hoskins almost put Northampton ahead, twice, moments later when he controlled the ball out wide, cut in and curled on target. Pereira pushed away but Mitch Pinnock was lingering with intent, only for the wide man to stumble and miss the ball inside the box. If it should have been the visitors trailing then, it really should have been five minutes later when a Reading corner was recycled to Elliott in his own half, only for Louis Appere to dispossess the youngster and bare down on goal. The Portuguese stopper, who only came into the team in the place of David Button before the international break when Button was ill, came to his rescue and managed to smother the effort somehow away from danger.

The second half followed a similar vein, with both sides making mistakes and the overall feel of the game left incredibly hectic. In fact, other than a game of head tennis in the Cobblers’ box, which lead to a free-kick being awarded to the visitors, it took until Ehibhatiomhan’s introduction with 30 minutes remaining for Reading to start turning the screw.

Out of nowhere, the Academy graduate cut in and curled an unstoppable effort past Moulden to take the roof off for most of the 15,500 in attendance. Azeez was nearly sent through on goal following a quick turnaround, but Jack Sowerby dealt with the pressure well and pulled his hamstring in the process.

Marooned in mid-table with little to play for, you would forgive Jon Brady’s men for easing themselves to the beach, but there was none of that on display as Northampton pressed hard and made Reading throw bodies on the line to preserve a clean sheet.

Azeez could have wrapped up the points when he was found in the box but Moulden forced the ball behind for a corner. From the resulting corner, the winger saw a header flick off the crossbar and out.

With six matches remaining, the Royals travel to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers on Easter Monday.