READING’S 500th game at the Madejski ended in disappointment as a freakish winner from Tom Naylor saw Burton secure back-to-back league wins for the first time in nearly two years.
A Liam Moore clearance ricocheted into the net off midfielder Naylor with nine minutes to go, shortly after Modou Barrow had cancelled out Tom Flanagan’s first-half strike.
Boos rang out at the final whistle, as Royals, now winless in three, remain 14th in the table, and face the tricky visit to high-flying Bristol City on Boxing Day.
Lucas Akins looked dangerous down the right early on for the Brewers, showing a quick turn of pace to work an over-hit cross into the box before Leandro Bacuna whipped in a far more threatening delivery across face of goal for Royals, but nobody in a blue shirt was able to make contact.
Akins produced the first shot at goal from either side, striking straight at Vito Mannone before centre-back Flanagan fired over from range after a spell of Burton pressure.
Chris Gunter’s cross from the left towards Yann Kermorgant was cleared only as far as Sone Aluko, who skipped around a challenge before producing a shot straight into the arms of Stephen Bywater.
There were penalty cries from the Royals faithful as Modou Barrow’s ball in appeared to strike the arm of Lloyd Dyer inside the Burton box however referee John Brooks waved away the claims.
A looping cross by Gunter was met by Kermorgant at the back stick, but the Frenchman headed well off-target as Reading began to dominate.
With five minutes until the break, Burton took an unlikely lead as a long throw by Akins went all the through to Flanagan who poked home from twelve yards.
Desperate to respond quickly, Royals looked again to target man Kermorgant, who won a corner off Ben Turner, but the delivery was woeful and easily cleared by the Burton defence to leave the Brewers in front at half-time.
It was Burton who looked more likely to score after the restart as Akins produced a fantastic ball in from the right in the direction of Dyer, but he could not divert his header goalwards.
Will Miller was then presented with a great opportunity to double the Brewers’ lead after Dyer’s cross deflected into his path, but his scuffed effort was easily gathered by Mannone.
Down the other end, Barrow had a shot blocked with Bywater well out of position after getting on the end of a long ball from Joey Van den Berg.
As the game ticked past the hour mark, Jaap Stam opted to bring on John Swift perhaps for his creativity, with the 22-year-old making his first appearance since early November.
Aluko came close to finding an equaliser for Reading, his effort from outside the box flashing by the post after Van den Berg’s through ball.
Fourteen minutes from time, Royals finally levelled. Liam Kelly received a deep cross from the Gunter on the right, and the Irishman fed the ball into Barrow who stabbed home from close range.
Unfortunately for Royals fans, Burton retook the lead just five minutes later. Liam Moore’s attempted clearance deflected off Naylor and squeezed into the net past a diving Mannone, to condemn Reading to consecutive defeats.
READING: Mannnone; Bacuna, McShane (c), Moore, Gunter; van den Berg, Kelly (Bodvarsson 81), Edwards (Swift 61); Aluko, Barrow, Kermorgant.
Subs not used: Jaakkola, Ilori, Blackett, Clement, McCleary.
Goal: Barrow (76)
BURTON: Bywater; Akins, Brayford, Buxton (c), Turner, Flanagan; Miller (Allen 68), Naylor, Murphy (McFadzean 89), Dyer; Sordell (Scannell 84).
Subs not used: Campbell, Sbarra, Akpan, Palmer.
Goals: Flanagan (40), Naylor (81)
Yellow card: Murphy (55)
Referee: John Brooks
Attendance: 21,771 (inc. 319 away)