IT'S boom or bust for Rovers at the minute. A slump in form to end 2018, when they lost three consecutive matches, was followed by a bright start to 2019.

But those four successive January wins seem a long time ago after another away-day disappointment, this time at Reading meaning it is now three defeats on the spin.

A game Rovers controlled for the most part, they conspired to lose, and surely ended any faint hope of a top six finish. The aim now will be to not let what had been a bright season fizzle out.

Tony Mowbray's team showed four changes, including attacking pair Bradley Dack and Danny Graham among the substitutes. A three-man midfield was tasked with pressing a Reading side who play out from the back at all costs.

That tactic led to the first chance of the half 11 minutes in, as Corry Evans, not for the first time, won the ball and fed Adam Armstrong who linked up with Ben Brereton, before drawing a save from Emi Martinez.

Rovers were in complete control, dominating possession and the territory but lacked an extra attacking option to take advantage.

Visiting keeper David Raya could have been forgiven for drifting off, such was the lack of Reading threat, something striker Nelson Oliveira tried to take advantage of in the 21st minute with an audacious 30 yard effort, which Raya was happy to see drift just over the bar.

Rovers resumed control but two good moves down their left ended in disappointing fashion, as first Amari’i Bell and then Craig Conway could only find the side netting.

Charlie Mulgrew took matters in to his own hands in search of an opening goal, forcing Martinez in to a routine save with a free kick from 30 yards.

Armstrong, operating in a central striking role, had two more opportunities in the final minutes of the half. He fired over on his left foot, after Reading failed to clear his initial cross, before being played in by Evans. Clean through, he opted to shoot early under pressure from the retreating Liam Moore, only for Martinez to gather moving away to his right.

The sucker punch then arrived in the dying seconds of the one added minute. Bell looked in control of a ball forward down his side, only to be outmuscled by Andy Yiadom who found John Swift and his shot across Raya found the corner.

Reading were sent out in the second half with more attacking intent, but Rovers passed up a glorious chance to equalise seven minutes after the re-start. Brereton, on his second league start, did the hard work to bring down Conway’s cross, but on his left foot from eight yards he couldn’t hit the target.

It took until the 57th minute for Dack to be introduced off the bench, but Reading were gaining more control and Oliveira drew a save from Raya with a low drive from 25 yards on the hour mark.

The atmosphere was flat and there was no real urgency to Rovers’ play, though Dack threatened when he met a Mulgrew free kick but he couldn't keep his effort down.

The game should have been put out of reach with 20 minutes to play when Ovie Ejaria slid the ball through a static Rovers defence. If anything, substitute Yakou Meite had too much time when clean through, dragging his effort well wide from 12 yards.

Rovers ended with Graham, Dack and Joe Rothwell off the bench for a final push, but their crossing was once again a real disappointment.

Meite had already missed one golden chance for the hosts, and did so again with 10 minutes to play, heading a left wing corner wide when unchallenged six yards out.

That came back to haunt Reading as, with their next attack, Rovers equalised. Rothwell fed Bell on the overlap and his shot found a way through Martinez.

But the lead lasted just four minutes. Rovers were camped in the home side's half but were caught out by one long diagonal pass and Oliveira ran at Jack Rodwell before firing a winner beyond Raya.