Town had chances to have taken at least a point from the Madejski with Tyrone Mings heading against the bar in the last minute but Jake Taylor’s first-half goal won it for the home side.
David McGoldrick was twice denied before Taylor struck for the Royals on 26 minutes and despite Blues camping around the Reading box in the closing stages, with Mings’ header a coat of paint away from going in, Mick McCarthy’s side couldn’t find that priceless equaliser.
Conor Sammon started on the bench for Blues after arriving on loan from Derby on Friday, McGoldrick returning to the starting line-up in place of Balint Bajner in Town’s only change from the team that beat Fulham in the season opener last week.
Simon Cox almost got in for Reading inside the first minute, his strike blocked by Christophe Berra but it was Blues who dominated the early exchanges, McGoldrick denied on the edge of the box, then Daryl Murphy’s header from a corner was knocked goalwards by Berra and McGoldrick was thwarted again almost on the line.
A superb cross by Tyrone Mings was met by McGoldrick but he couldn’t get enough on his header from distance, while at the other end a mazy run by Pavel Pogrebnyak saw him create space inside the Blues’ box but Luke Hyam was alert to the danger.
Reading began to get a foothold in the game and Berra was in the right place to clear from Cox as the recent signing from Nottingham Forest threatened an opener.
That first goal came moments later, a long ball from the right was deflected into the Town box by McGoldrick and Taylor nipped in to slide the ball past Dean Gerken just before the half hour.
Town responded, McGoldrick almost found Murphy with a reverse pass, Berra’s header from the resultant corner held by Adam Federici.
The Royals’ keeper held firm again seconds later from Tommy Smith’s header to make sure his team went into the break with that one goal advantage intact.
Paul Anderson replaced Elliott Hewitt at the break, Jay Tabb starting the second-half with the number 18 on his back after playing numberless for the first 45 minutes.
Anderson’s excellent run and cross found McGoldrick at the far post but his header was deflected behind, the frontman then releasing Tabb whose cross was eventually cleared with Anderson looking to get in.
Town maintained the pressure on the home goal, Alex Pearce at full stretch to clear then McGoldrick crowded out by Federici and Pearce as he burst into the box.
Smith hacked cleared from Pogrebnyak six yards out before Sammon replaced McGoldrick in Town’s second change on 70 minutes.
The Republic of Ireland international won a free-kick on the edge of the box but Murphy’s effort was hammered against the wall, Town boss Mick McCarthy then introducing Bajner for the final stages, former Royal Tabb given a warm ovation as made way.
Michael Hector hacked clear from Anderson’s cross as Town searched for a way through, Federici then saving low down at his near post.
Mings almost gave Town a point in the last minute, his header crashing back off the underside of the bar, with Smith sending the rebound over – and with it went Blues’ final chance of a point.