Preston blew a great opportunity to close the gap on the top six as they faced an out of form Reading side struggling at the bottom of the table and who duly sacked their manager almost immediately after the game.
A common theme under Ryan Lowe has been how the side is slow to start games. This continued against Reading as they were behind almost from the start.
Reading scored with virtually their first attack. It took several attempts for the ball to hit the back of the net which showed how sluggish Preston were. Iversen saved, there was a scramble, another block and eventually Joao ended the turmoil by finishing.
The game was not even twenty minutes old when Joao was given the freedom of Deepdale to score his second and double the lead. Preston were all at sea. Potts was the unfotunate player to be taken off in the first half but in reality any of the midfield three or back line could have been hooked.
Just before the break Preston were gifted a golden chance to get back into the game. A mistake in the final third meant Reading lost possession and allowed Riis at an angle to run into the box.
Faced with an oncoming keeper Riis had two options. He could either attempt a difficult shot around the keeper on his left foot or slide a ball across to the waiting Archer or oncoming Browne who were free in the box to tap into an open goal.
Riis decided to opt for the spectacular and blasted his shot at least ten rows back into the Kop which contained Preston fans for the first time in a number of years for a league game.
After the break Swift added a third to give Reading an unasailable lead. Despite the changes at the break Preston were still playing poorly from back to front.
North End then mounted a comeback of sorts. Almost straight away Reading allowed Johnson to run through the entire defence and poke home to reduce the scoreline.
Archer then scored from close range to set up a frantic finish. Sinclair came closest when he curled a shot over the bar but Preston were unable to equalise.
The dropped points could be critical towards the end of the season but Preston must now bounce back with a midweek home game against Nottingham Forest before travelling to Coventry at the weekend.