Reading gave Burton Albion a boost in their League One survival battle, going down 3-2 to the Brewers at the Pirelli Stadium.

Martin Patterson’s side, who had scored three goals in nearly eight home matches previously, had scored three within 45 minutes as Mason Bennett, Mustapha Carayol and Bobby Kamwa netted past a defensively lapse Reading outfit.

Lewis Wing and Sam Smith twice reduced the lead to one but Reading were unable to make up for their slow start and ended their away campaign as it had started in August, with defeat.

Depite starting well, forcing  a save out of Max Crocombe within 30 seconds, it was a half firmly belonging to the hosts. It took just four minutes for Burton to take the lead when Joe Powell’s free-kick was fired toward the near-post and never truly dealt with, allowing Bennett to fire powerfully past Joel Pereira.

 It went from bad to worse before the 15-minute mark as Pereira tried a clever pass out from the back, only for the ball to be intercepted deep in his own half and Carayol given room to drive forward before bending a shot into the far corner to double the lead. Moments later, the Brewers forced a turnover and Pereira made another great save to keep his side in the tie. An injury to Powell gave Ruben Selles the opportunity to speak to his players and it certainly paid off as they came out a much stronger attacking force.

Sam Smith landed an effort on the roof of the net on the half-hour mark and it felt like a goal was coming for the Royals. It came with 10 minutes of the half remaining, Wing curling a free-kick up and over the wall, leaving Crocombe flat-footed and beaten. Providing a constant threat going forward, Reading never looked strong defensively and conceded a crucial third goal five minutes before half-time when Burton recycled the ball after Pereira’s save and Kamwa emphatically flicked the ball over the line.

Reading had it all to do in the second half and needed to put in a good showing for the 1,700 travelling supporters. A period with few chances at either end, both sides battled for their supporters and the Brewers’ third-tier status.

 On the hour mark, the Royals were given the chance to haul themselves back into the game from the penalty spot. Ehibhatiomhan stood his man up on the right and tempted the defender into dangling a leg. He duly did and referee Scott Oldham pointed to the spot. A first penalty since the first away match of the season at Port Vale, which Andy Carroll missed. Smith made no such mistake this time, slotting past the keeper to reduce the deficit to one. Despite huffing and puffing, neither keeper was particularly tested in what mattered little to the already-safe Royals.

With one game remaining, at home to Blackpool next Saturday, the best Reading can finish is 16th. There are still play-off and relegation places to be decided as the 2023/24 campaign comes to a close on April 27.