Two quickfire Derby County goals at the end of the first half condemned Reading to defeat with goals from Tom Lawrence and Wayne Rooney.
Lawrence fired a shot into the top corner before Rooney struck from the spot to give the Rams a two-goal lead at half-time. An improved second half showing saw Andy Rinomhota nod home for the visitors but they were unable to find an equaliser and were left empty handed.
Derby started the quicker of the two sides as Lawrence fired two efforts at Rafael’s goal early in the game. The first of which flew over the bar before Rafael got his body in front of the second and held on.
Reading’s first big chance of the match came after 19 minutes when Chris Gunter found Ovie Ejaria on the left wing who squared the ball for George Puscas, but the forward fired his shot over the bar.
The Royals stepped up their attacking intent and almost broke the deadlock just before the half hour mark. John Swift and Michael Olise linked up beautifully before Yakou Meite hit his volley over Hamer’s goal.
Olise continued to impress and saw his curling effort held onto by the Rams goalkeeper to keep the scores level.
Ejaria then struck the post as Mark Bowen’s side threatened once again. He dribbled past Waghorn and smacked the frame of the goal from a tight angle.
But just as the Royals looked to have been getting on top, they were dealt a blow just before half-time. Sibley fed the ball to Lawrence who picked out the top corner to beat Rafael.
Things then went from bad to worse in a dreadful few minutes for the Royals just before the break after Liam Moore brought down Waghorn, resulting in the referee pointing to the penalty spot.
Wayne Rooney stepped up from 12 yards and sent Rafael the wrong way to double the hosts’ advantage in a prolific spell before the break.
With a two goal deficit to come back from, the Royals had an uphill task on their hands as they fought to try and get something out of the game.
With half an hour to salvage something, Sam Baldock replaced Puscas. And the change bought about a goal as Reading got themselves back into the game.
Hamer cleared Swift’s corner with a punch straight to Rinomhota, who from just inside the box looped a header over the keeper to get his side back into the game with just under half an hour remaining.
With a new reinvigorated confidence and belief, Olise curled a goal wards bound shot which was deflected behind for a corner kick, but Derby defended more efficiently this time to clear the danger.
Reading’s second change came in the 75th minute as Olise was replaced by Garath McCleary.
McCleary made an instant impact as he drove down the right wing and delivered a cross which was met by Ejaria, but Hamer got down low to keep his header out.
Bowen’s final changes saw Ayub Timbe Masika and Charlie Adam come on for Omar Richards and Ejaria with just under 10 minutes remaining.
But Reading were unable to salvage a point as they fell to defeat in their second back since ‘project restart’ began to conclude the 2019/20 Championship season.
The final whistle was met by confrontation as Lawrence and Miazga were both shown red cards after squaring up to each after the end of the game.
The Royals host promotion pushing Brentford at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday evening (6pm kick off).
Reading: Rafael, Gunter, Miazga, Moore, Richards, Rinomhota, Swift, Ejaria, Olise, Ejaria, Meite, Puscas.
Subs: Walker, Morrison, Baldock, Obita, McCleary, Blackett, Masika, Adam, Pele.
Derby County: Hamer, Wisdom, Forsyth, Wghorn, Lawrence, Clarke, Martin, Rooney, Bogle, Sibley, Bird
Subs: Roos, Shinnie, Jozefzoon, Holmes, Lowe, Davies, Knight, Huddlestone, Whittaker
Goals: Lawrence 44′, Rooney (pen) 45′, Rinomhota 62′