HOPES of a comeback at Reading lasted just a matter of seconds for Blackburn Rovers, but they must maintain a belief that they can secure Championship survival in their remaining six games.

There were few positives that could be taken from a first-half in which Rovers were outplayed and trailed 2-0 at the Madejski Stadium.

An injury to Charlie Mulgrew only added to their problems, but a rejuvenated second half display, playing with a back three, was rewarded 13 minutes from time as Elliott Bennett drew them within one.

But just as thoughts turned to the possibility of moving level on points with Bristol City, and snatching a priceless point, Reading restored their two goal advantage within seconds through Garath McCleary.

Rovers made three changes with Hope Akpan, Liam Feeney and Sam Gallagher coming in to the side, but they were forced in to another re-shuffle inside the opening 10 minutes.

Mulgrew was stretchered off after a collision inside the Reading area, with Tommie Hoban brought on, but only after the visitors had to hold out during a nervy few minutes in which the Royals had a man advantage. Within five minutes of that change Rovers were to fall behind as Yann Kermorgant pulled off the shoulder of Hoban to head a Tyler Blackett cross past Jason Steele.

It was a sixth consecutive game in which Rovers had fallen behind as they were yet again forced to chase the game.

And it was one that was getting away from them very quickly, as Reading, and Kermorgant, doubled their tally a minute before the half hour mark.

Rovers were cut open, with Roy Beerens feeding John Swift whose cross was headed home by Kermorgant.

A rampant Reading looked in the mood for more, while Rovers were forced to feed off scraps as Bennett wasted their best chance in the 18th minute, firing over from 25 yards after being played in by Feeney.

The visitors did have the ball in the net moments before the half-time whistle, only for Gallagher to be flagged offside as he turned in Craig Conway’s inswinging free-kick.

The second half started with two more Rovers changes, as Lucas Joao and Marvin Emnes were sent on as Tony Mowbray switched to three at the back despite the loss of Darragh Lenihan to injury with a knock picked up late in the first half. Conway was the other man replaced.

Those changes brought something of a life to Rovers as they looked for a way back in to the game.

They went within an inch of getting a goal back 10 minutes after the re-start. Bennett’s cross evaded Joao and Gallagher but looked to be drifting into the far corner only to bounce back off the post and in to the grateful arms of Ali Al-Habsi.

Emnes then should have worked Al-Habsi, only to fire over at the end of a good break, as the hour mark was reached with Rovers building some momentum as they looked to rescue the match.

The visitors were enjoying almost all of the possession and territory and, backed by a resurgent away support of 480, they dominated possession but couldn’t test Al-Habsi.

A moment of magic from Bennett brought the much-needed goal as with 13 minutes to go he found the top corner with a stunning strike from the edge of the box.

However, the hope was all but gone within a minute as substitute McCleary restored the hosts’ two goal lead, finding the corner with a low effort as Rovers failed to clear their lines.

And Reading finished strongly with McCleary and Swift both missing good opportunities as Rovers left empty handed.