Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Blackett (Ilori 69’), McShane (c), Moore, Van den Berg, Swift, Williams, Kelly (Kermorgant 85’), Beerens (Evans 85’), McCleary.
Subs: Jaakkola, Evans, Mendes, Samuel, Kermorgant, Meite, Ilori.
Fulham: Button, Fredericks, Malone (Sessegnon 68’), McDonald (Parker 83’), Ream, Madl (Piazon 45’), Cairney, Johansen, Kalas, Aluko, Martin.
Subs: Bettinelli, Sessegnon, Odoi, Parker, Smith, Sigurdsson, Piazon.
There was no fog to disrupt the game this time as the Royals set up in an unusual 5-1-2-2 formation, with Williams deep, Swift and Kelly pushed further forward and Beerens and McCleary roaming between the channels. There was no out and out striker. Blackett came in for the suspended Obita, Van den Berg replaced Ilori at the back.
It all meant that Reading were playing a unique formation made up of a number of small players.
The first moment of note in the game came as Madl and Blackett had a clash of heads, with the Fulham man coming off worse and needing some attention from the physios.
The first 20 minutes or so saw Reading put some decent passing moves together, though it was a fairly end-to-end game with few clear-cut chances to speak of.
The entertainment continued, with Aluko making a hash of an opportunity for Fulham and blasting the ball wide of the goal with Moore closing him down.
#ReadingFC boss Jaap Stam's body language tells you what sort of game we've had so far.— BBC Berkshire (@BBCBerkshire) January 24, 2017
Half chances at either end but it remains 0-0. pic.twitter.com/XACtQ66YGI
Beerens set up Swift for another opportunity, but this time Swift headed over, before a Button made another save shortly afterwards.
Both teams went in at half time with the score 0-0.
Former Reading loanee Lucas Piazon returned against his former club for the second half, replacing Madl.
Reading were awarded a penalty when Moore was knocked over in the box. John Swift took, but the shot was saved and Beerens followed it up and knocked in the rebound. 1-0 to Reading, and yet another penalty missed but scored on the rebound.
How many times can they do this? The saved penalty/score the follow up is the weirdest set piece in football. #readingfc https://t.co/rnuvKCpwSv— Mike Servedio (@MikeServedio) January 24, 2017
It could have been two shortly after, with chances for Swift and then McShane blocked. Aluko had a snapshot that went high and wide, before McCleary struck the bar with a venomous shot from 25 yards.
Reading went for the kill shortly after, with a 3 v 1 situation, but Kalas, the lone defender, blocked Beerens on the attack.
Sessegnon came on for Fulham, while Ilori made his home debut for the Royals, replacing Blackett at left wing back — a position nobody would have envisaged for him upon his signing last week.
Goalscorer Beerens and the impressive Kelly came off for Reading, with Kermorgant and Evans on to see out the final five minutes.
That wasn’t the end of the game, though, with Fulham awarded a penalty in the dying minutes. It looked as though Reading were destined to drop two points, only for Al Habsi to save Martin’s kick.
Fulham, riled by the penalty miss, piled the pressure on in the hunt for an equaliser, but there wasn’t to be one.
Three points secured. Just.