Jaap Stam made four changes from the thrashing at Norwich last weekend, with the most surprising inclusion being Joseph Mendes, who started a Championship game for the first time since joining from Le Havre in the summer. Top scorer Yann Kermorgant dropped to the bench along with Garath McCleary.
Incredibly, it was that man Mendes who opened the scoring with just six minutes played as he received the ball from Lewis Grabban, took a touch to his right and fired past Sam Johnstone to surprise even the most optimistic of Reading fans.
The hosts were assertive in looking for an equaliser though, and it took them just eight minutes to find one. Mile Jedinak's shot forced an excellent save from Ali Al-Habsi who pushed the ball out for a corner, but the Omani keeper got nowhere Conor Hourihane's delivery as Villa captain James Chester headed home.
Reading had the best opportunities to take a lead into the break, with John Swift seeing a low drive saved, Mendes missing a sitter following good work from Grabban and Grabban himself failing to take advantage of a Villa defensive error. Nonetheless, 1-1 it remained at the end of the first half.
But the Royals wasted no time at all when they returned to the pitch, with Mendes scoring a sensational second less than a minute after the restart. Grabban again provided the assist after being sent down the right wing by Adrian Popa.
Both Jonathan Kodjia (£15 million) and Scott Hogan (£12 million) had half chances to earn Villa a point, but it was loanee Lewis Grabban for Reading who wrapped up all three points with 11 minutes to pay. Following a foul on Liam Kelly in the box, the Jamaican stepped up to score his first goal for the club from the penalty spot.
Jaap Stam's side now host already relegated Rotherham on Monday sitting fourth in the table, one point behind Huddersfield and three points ahead of Leeds. Even more importantly, there's now a six point gap between us and Fulham in seventh.
Reading line-up: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Moore, Blackett, Obita, Williams, Swift, Kelly (Evans 87'), Popa (McCleary 65'), Mendes (Kermorgant 69'), Grabban