Reading boss Brian McDermott admitted former England goalkeeper David James was the difference in the 1-0 defeat at Bristol City on Tuesday night.
Danny Haynes drilled home a low shot from 12 yards for the only goal which lifted the atmosphere among worried home supporters.
James then protected the lead with several fine second-half saves, the best coming when he threw himself to keep out Noel Hunt's 50th-minute header.
"That was a world-class save," said McDermott. "James has been a great goalkeeper for a long time and showed it in this game."