Rob Quinn made one change to the side that suffered a late defeat at Cobham against Chelsea last week; Rio Cardines joined the starting XI in place of Zack Henry, who was withdrawn last weekend after suffering an injury in the first-half.
Palace put their opponents under pressure right from the off. A long ball was played over the top just seconds after kick-off for captain Zach Marsh to chase, but Reading goalkeeper Harrison Rhone was alert to the threat and charged out of his box to clear the danger and survive the early scare.
This turned out to be a sign of things to come, as the young Eagles were the ones looking comfortable and applying the pressure for much of the first half.
The opening 15 minutes though proved to be a somewhat cagey affair, with chances hard to come by. Marsh and Joseph Barough both had half-chances for their respective sides, with Marsh forcing a save from Rhone, but neither team produced anything clear-cut.
The Royals were struggling to deal with the Palace press though and the breakthrough duly came during the 16th minute: Marsh forced an error by closing down Rhone after a backpass, latching on to the ‘keeper’s misplaced clearance and feeding Jesse Derry on the edge of the box. The winger cut back on to his right foot before accurately slotting into the bottom left corner from 18 yards out.
Despite Palace largely remaining in control, Reading began to grow into the game. Kiyan Coke-Miles-Smith dragged his shot from outside the box wide before a missed clearance from Jake Grante allowed Barough to slip through on goal. The forward evaded a challenge from Tyler Whyte before he was swiftly denied by an onrushing Eastwood.
The chances kept coming for the visitors – Royals captain Boyd Bearcroft produced a towering header from a corner, but his attempt sailed over the bar.
Mofe Jemide was involved in a robust coming-together with Rohart-Brown, eventually having to be substituted as a result but was the Eagles’ only enforced change this week, after no less than four last time out.
Palace withstood the brief Reading flurry and ended the half positively; Hindolo Mustapha was a force in midfield, snatching back possession in the middle of the park and feeding Marsh on two occasions. The striker was unable to convert however, having his shot blocked the first time around before curling an attempt wide a minute later.
No changes were made at half time and, despite the Eagles being in control for the opening 45 minutes, it was the visitors that emerged from the break as the better team and found an equaliser just two minutes after the whistle. Barough won the ball in midfield and released Coke-Miles-Smith down the left flank, who used his pace to make his way into the penalty area. He returned the ball to Barough, who smashed home with the outside of his left boot.
Reading had started the second half brighter and continued to push Palace after their goal. Eastwood was called into action to parry away Shay Spencer’s long-range strike.
Palace did not let their heads drop though and managed to stem the Royals’ momentum. Their resilience was a team effort but the goal that proved to be the winner was a moment of individual brilliance.
Just after the hour mark, Marsh played a quick free kick out wide to Derry. He found himself one-on-one with Reading full-back Emmanuel Osho, jinking one way and then the other, sitting his defender down before curling a beautiful effort into the top-right corner.
After restoring their advantage, the Eagles settled back into game and chances once again became a rarity. A wayward Barough cross nicked the crossbar on its way over and a late Coke-Miles-Smith header was no trouble for Eastwood.
Palace were determined to see the game out, exemplified in the 90th minute when Marsh took the ball 3 quarters of the way across the pitch and won a corner, and claimed a hard-fought victory to get back to winning ways.
Palace: Eastwood (GK), Whyte (Williams, 61’), Grante, Jemide (King, 38’), Adams-Collman, Austin, Dashi, Mustapha (Redhead, 78’), Derry, Marsh, Cardines.
Subs not used: Hill, Omobolaji.
Reading: Harrison (GK), Osho, Field, Beacroft, Duah, Spencer, Jones (Ahmed, 90+1), Sackey, Rohart-Brown (Ramirez, 78’), Ceke-Miles-Smith (White, 90+1), Barough.
Subs not used: Sharlott, George.