Match ends, Ipswich Town 0, Reading 1.
Ipswich Town failed to take advantage of results around them as they suffered a narrow defeat against Reading.
Jamie Mackie scored the game's only goal, beating Town goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski from 25 yards early on.
The Royals defended stoutly throughout and limited the promotion contenders to half-chances, with Adam Federici rarely troubled in goal.
Ipswich lacked a cutting edge and missed a chance to move level on points with second-placed Middlesbrough.
The away side had lost their last two Championship matches without scoring, but found themselves in front when Mackie cut inside from the right hand side and drilled a shot into the corner.
Ipswich dominated possession but failed to create many clear chances in the first half, with Daryl Murphy shooting straight at Federici after a surging run.
Freddie Sears and Jay Tabb also had opportunities for the home side but both players headed wide from promising positions.
After the break Bialkowski was forced into a save from Nathaniel Chalobah's powerful free-kick before Tabb shot wide after beating the offside trap.
As Reading sat back the home side were continually frustrated in front of goal, with substitute Paul Anderson's effort and Sears' snap-shot both comfortably dealt with by Federici.
Top goal-scorer Murphy headed Anderson's free-kick wide and Reading survived late goalmouth pressure to move up five places to 13th.
Ipswich remain fourth but failed to take advantage of Middlesbrough's earlier defeat to Leeds, while rivals Norwich and Brentford gained ground in the play-off race with victories against Watford and Bournemouth respectively.
Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy:
"We watched Middlesbrough lose to Leeds beforehand and that's the Championship. When you put that squad of Reading players up, they should be competing for the play-offs - there is nothing between us at all.
"Our points and position might be different, but in terms of quality and strength of squad, there is nothing in it.
"It was one of those days. We took the game to them but we were not able to score. They got the goal and then sat back in what was a good away performance."
Reading manager Steve Clarke:
"It was a tough game and I can't imagine it was very pretty to watch. But you could see today we have quality in the group and good character.
"We are disappointed we are where we are in the table. We are nine points clear of the bottom three, but it is not enough. It is frustrating that we can't find a level of consistency and the home form is puzzling.
"We will keep concentrating on the league as we want to get higher and higher up the table."
- 27BishopSubstituted forParrat 65'minutes
- 17BruBooked at 67mins
- 18TabbSubstituted forAndersonat 65'minutes
- 20SearsSubstituted forVarneyat 79'minutes
- 11ObitaBooked at 75mins
- 19MackieSubstituted forCooperat 90'minutes
- 9Robson-KanuSubstituted forAkpanat 76'minutes
- 10CoxSubstituted forMcClearyat 77'minutes
- Eddie Ilderton
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Ipswich Town 0, Reading 1.
Tyrone Mings (Ipswich Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading).
Foul by Kevin Bru (Ipswich Town).
Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt blocked. Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Tommy Smith (Ipswich Town) header from the left side of the six yard box misses to the right. Assisted by Luke Chambers with a headed pass following a corner.
Corner, Ipswich Town. Conceded by Jake Cooper.
Attempt saved. Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Tyrone Mings.
Attempt missed. Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Paul Anderson with a cross following a set piece situation.
Luke Varney (Ipswich Town) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jake Cooper (Reading).
Substitution, Reading. Jake Cooper replaces Jamie Mackie.
Attempt missed. Garath McCleary (Reading) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Jordan Obita.
Foul by Luke Varney (Ipswich Town).
Jordan Obita (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town).
Alex Pearce (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Jamie Mackie (Reading) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is close, but misses to the right following a fast break.