Preston manager Alex Neil blamed the surprise 2-1 Championship defeat at struggling Reading on his side’s self-destructive tendencies.
Reading led at half time through opportunist goals from Yakou Meite – his ninth of the season – and Mo Barrow in the space of six minutes.
Preston improved in the second period but had only Jayden Stockley’s 93rd-minute strike to show for their efforts.
It was Preston’s first defeat in 13 league matches and ended a run of six successive away wins.
“It was frustrating,” Neil said. “In the early part of the game, I didn’t think that there was much in it.
“Both teams passed the ball about a lot, with a lot of probing. But without any real penetration for either team.
“For the first goal, we dived in. Defensively it was poor from us – that very rarely happens.
“For the second goal, we knew that we had to get it if we were going to get something back from the match.
“But we didn’t, they did. It was a bit of a mix-up or a lack of decision making and the lad (Barrow) nips in to get his goal.
“We’ve only really got ourselves to blame for those goals.
“It doesn’t matter what team you play in this league. If you give them two goals start, it’s always going to be tough afterwards.
“But that’s part of the development of our young players. Mistakes were made that we can’t afford to replicate in the games coming up.
“We huffed and puffed a bit today and our set-plays were not at the level we’ve come to expect.
“But we’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves. We have to make sure that we are on the right side of games in the future.
“We’ve still got a chance of making the play-offs but losing here has made it a bit harder.”
Reading’s victory eased their relegation fears.
“I’m happy for all the players,” manager Jose Gomes said. “They really followed our game plan.
“We were very solid defensively and we attacked with a lot of danger.
“In the first half, we could have scored another goal. It was a very good shot from Ovie (Ejaria).
“It was a very important three points for us against a team that didn’t lose in their last 12 games.
“So those results speak for themselves. Preston are a very tough team, very difficult to play against.
“So we deserved the three points.
“But we know that is just three points. We know that we have a long way in front of us over the last seven games.
“We have lost a number of points in the last five minutes so I decided to protect the team towards the end.
“That gave us the result and kept the three points with us.
“Yes, other results may have gone for us today. There is a bit of breathing space.
“But we cannot really think like that. We know that we must prepare very well for the next game and then try to win it.
“Even in one second, we cannot think that we have finished and we can relax.
“There spirit is very strong here and there is a very good dynamic within all the players.”