Neil Warnock's histrionics on the touchline showed what a tough night this was for his QPR side. But this resolute performance, leading to them pinching a late away win with 10 men against a form team, showed that their march to the Premier League is unlikely to be stopped.
The QPR manager described this as "one of the best wins of my career". It was an understandable response. This night felt like a seminal moment in QPR's promotion challenge.
Having had Hogan Ephraim sent off shortly before half-time, Warnock was at his most animated from then onwards. His arms were flaying, his shouts were bellowing. But he need not have worried. His players defended stoutly, keeping quiet one of the best attacking units in the division.
Then, with eight minutes to play, they strung together the fine passing move that culminated in Wayne Routledge striking the winner from 18 yards. Their lead at the top is now eight points. "The whole 90 minutes was emotional," said Warnock. "They were all heroes. We're in the game for nights like this. You can't buy this feeling. I have to worry about my heart."
Both teams made a positive start, passing fluently. QPR created better early chances with Rob Hulse and Clint Hill both coming close with headers. Adel Taarabt also narrowly missed with a free-kick.
Reading's final ball kept letting them down. Matt Mills then had a nervous wait to find out if the referee thought he was the last man as the centre-back brought down Ephraim. He survived.
Reading finished the first half strongly with Simon Church twice coming close. First he forced Paddy Kenny into a fine save from a close-range strike. Then Church forced Hill to clear off the line during a scramble.
Things soon took a further turn for the worse for unsettled QPR as Ephraim made a careless lunge on Jimmy Kébé. Warnock was furious that Ephraim did not receive just a booking. "It was a disgrace for Matt Mills to scream at the ref before the sending off," added Warnock.
QPR did not adopt a defensive mentality after the break despite having 10 men. Taarabt was played in a more advanced role in a bold 4-3-2. They were lucky when Bradley Orr seemed to foul Shane Long in the penalty box and no spot-kick was given.
Then they struck. Taarabt flicked the ball to Alejandro Faurlin who threaded a pass for Routledge. The winger held his nerve to slot the ball beyond goalkeeper Adam Federici.
Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Griffin, Mills, Ingimarsson, Harte; Kébé, Tabb (Robson-Kanu, 76), Karacan, McAnuff; Church (Manset, 68), Long. Substitutes not used Gunnarsson, Hunt, Khizanishvili, Cummings, McCarthy (gk). Booked Griffin, Mills.
Queen's Park Rangers (4-2-3-1): Kenny; Orr, Connolly, Gorkss, Hill; Derry, Faurlin; Routledge (Hall, 90), Taarabt (Moen, 86), Ephraim; Hulse (Miller, 66). Substitutes not used Rowlands, Cerny (gk), Chimbonda, Shittu. Booked Hill, Connolly.
Sent off Ephraim (42).
Referee R Booth (Nottinghamshire).