A second half goal saw Boro edged out of a tight contest at Reading.

In a game of few chances, Alen Halilovic settled matters with a scuffed effort 10 minutes into a  second period which also saw Matt Crooks harshly dismissed late on. 

The afternoon had almost started brightly when Boro had the ball in the net inside two minutes. Crooks headed home an Isaiah Jones cross, but the effort was ruled out by the assistant's flag, the ball adjudged to have crossed the byline for a goal kick.

There was little in the way of excitement during the opening period. Jones threatened a couple of times while Andraz Sporar was showing good movement and Marcus Tavernier almost released him on goal.

At the other end Joe Lumley spread himself well to deny John Swift who escaped Boro's attentions to find himself space in the area. Both Dael Fry and Lee Peltier also made important blocks for Boro to deny the visitors.

Lumley made another important save at the start of the second half when Junior Hoilett latched onto a ball through for a clear run at goal.

The home side got their noses in front shortly after when Alen Halilovic’s scuffed finish past an unsighted Lumley rounded off a move that had started in the Reading half.

Boro looked to rally a response and Sporar sent an effort high and wide after good link-up play with Crooks. Tavernier also got behind to play in a low ball for Crooks but Reading goalkeeper Luke Southwood reacted well.

Neil Warnock made three changes in the second period, but his side were unable to find a way back into the game - goalkeeper Lumley coming closest when he came up for a corner and glanced a header narrowly wide. 

And Crooks was harshly dismissed late on, punished for a collision with Royals keeper Southwood as he tried to stab at a loose ball.

Reading: Southwood, Halilovic, Swift, Ejaria, Drinkwater, Tetek, Yiadom, Dele-Bashiru, Rahman, Hoilett, Laurent.

Subs: Rafael, Ehibhatiomhan, Strickland, Clarke, Bristow, Sackey, Puscas.

Boro: Lumley, Fry, Tavernier, Payero (Lea Siliki 61), Sporar (Watmore 79), Peltier, Howson, McNair, Crooks, Bola, Jones (Olusanya 61).

Subs: Daniels, Hall, Ikpeazu, Bamba.

Referee: Peter Bankes