A 98th minute winner from Matt Miazga gave Reading all three points in their first game under Mark Bowen with a dramatic ending to a quiet game.
An evenly fought game was stolen by the Royals as Miazga found the back of the net latching onto a rebound from Jordan Obita’s shot which was parried by the goalkeeper.
Jubilant scenes were met by the Madejski crowd and player alike with the Reading players celebrating in the crowd.
The final whistle was met by huge applause as Reading picked up a much needed win to give Bowen a perfect start to his tenure as Royals manager after a challenging first week.
The much needed win sees Reading move out of the relegation zone up into 19th position in the Championship.
Mark Bowen started with a familiar five at the back formation in his first game in charge, with Andy Rinomhota, Lucas Boye and Lucas Joao all missing out through injury/illness.
Preston created the first half chance of the game as a deep cross found David Nugent, but Rafael easily collected his tame header towards goal.
Reading played the half with a notably more direct style of football than what was seen under Jose Gomes, with the ball often moved forward quickly from the back to the front through the use of long balls up to George Puscas and Yakou Meite.
Jordan Obita picked up the first yellow card of the game as he intercepted the ball on the wing, but rather harshly he was cautioned as the referee deemed him to have fouled the Preston player to win the ball.
Liam Moore punted a precised long ball over the top to find Puscas who cushioned the ball with his first touch to bring it down before lashing a shot over the bar from a tight angle.
David Nugent then went into the book for Preston after he fouled Andy Yiadom, and from the resulting free-kick, John Swift forced a decent save from Declan Rudd at his near post from 30 yards out.
Ovie Ejaria proved to be Reading’s brightest spark throughout the half, showing his nifty footwork on numerous occasions as Pele held the fort in front of the defence, allowing Ejaria to roam forward to try and cause damage.
Having won possession deep in the opposition half with a sliding tackle, Ejaria whipped in a dangerous cross which evaded his teammates with slightly too much pace on the ball.
Preston then threatened as Tom Barkhuizen drove into the box from the right wing, breezing past Jordan Obita but he failed to get a meaningful shot away at goal from a promising position.
It was a much improved 45 minutes from the Royals who had often fell victim to conceding early in games under Jose Gomes this season, with both sides failing to take control in an even first-half.
The hosts had to stay alert at the back as Michael Morrison threw his body in the way of two long ranged efforts to protect his goalkeeper.
Ejaria had two shots at goal in quick succession as he continued to look lively, forcing Rudd to get down to make two fairly comfortable stops five minutes before the break as the sides went in level at the break.
Bowen’s boys started the half the better of the two sides, winning two early corners after some more neat footwork from Ejaria who danced round the Preston defence and without support did well to win a corner, while some players pleaded for a penalty.
The visitors then created their best chance of the match so far as Darnell Fisher send in a cross from the right which was met by Nugent who powerfully headed goalwards, but straight down the throat of Rafael.
Ejaria then had a huge opportunity to break the deadlock as a low cross found him 12 yards from goal but he lifted his shot over the bar.
Bowen opted to make his first changes of the game with 70 minutes on the clock as Sam Baldock and Danny Loader came on in place of Yakou Meite and George Puscas.
Baldock, who was mainly an outcast in the side under Gomes, looked motivated to prove a point as he charged towards the Preston goal but Loader could not make use of the attack.
John Swift looked to find the corner as he took aim for 25 yards out but the ball went sailing over Rudd’s crossbar in the 83rd minute.
The final substitution of the game saw Charlie Adam replaced Pele in midfield after a much improved display from the Frenchman.
Reading snatched the winner in the 98th minute. A powerful Obita effort was parried out as Miazga latched onto the rebound and found the back of the net to send the Madejski into huge celebrations.
The Royals travel away to Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday evening before another away trip against Nottingham Forest next weekend.
Reading: Rafael, Morrison, Miazga, Moore,
Yiadom, Obita, Pele (Adam 83′), Swift, Ejaria, Meite (Loader 70′), Puscas
Subs: Walker, Baldock, Loader, Adam, McIntyre, Blackett, Richards.
North End: Rudd,
Fisher, Pearson, Davies, Johnson, Gallagher (Ledson 57′) Hughes, Bauer, Maguire,
Barkhuizen, Nugent (Harrop 57′)
Subs: Ripley, Rafferty, Ledson, Browne, Harrop, Potts, Stockley.