MIDDLESBROUGH became Reading’s first victims at the Madejski Stadium since January as the Royals reignited their promotion bid with this win.
An Easter mauling at Wigan had seen Reading slip down to ninth place in the Championship.
But former Rotherham United forward Adam Le Fondre’s strike and an own goal by George Friend, all in the first quarter of an hour, lifted Nigel Adkins’s side back into the sixth and final play-off spot with two games remaining.
With their destiny now in their own hands, Adkins knows wins over struggling Doncaster and promoted Burnley will keep alive their hopes of bouncing straight back to the Premier League.
They went ahead after just nine minutes when Boro goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos flapped at Jordan Obita’s left-wing cross.
Garath McCleary stabbed the ball back across goal where Le Fondre bundled it over the line.
It was the striker’s 14th goal of the season, and his first since he hit back-to-back home hat-tricks in January.
Danny Graham blew a good chance to equalise for Boro when he raced onto Luke Williams’s long ball only to lash his shot wide.
Moments later, with just 14 minutes on the clock, Reading doubled their advantage with Obita the architect again.
This time the winger swung in a free-kick from the right which Boro defender Friend got his head to, only to inadvertently nod it beyond his own goalkeeper.
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Morrison, Pearce, Obita, McCleary, Williams, Guthrie (Akpan 50), McAnuff, Le Fondre, Robson-Kanu (Pogrebnyak 29). Unused substitutes: Federici, Leigertwood, Drenthe, Cummings, Hector.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Varga, Omeruo, Gibson, Friend, Adomah, Whitehead, Chalobah (Leadbitter 46), Ledesma (Tomlin 64), Graham, Luke Williams. Unused substitutes: Steele, Butterfield, Main, Ayala, Woodgate.
Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire).