Adam Le Fondre came off the bench to fire Reading ever closer to the Barclays Premier League with a 3-1 win at promotion rivals Southampton.
The former Rotherham striker proved decisive after coming on in the 64th minute, netting twice to help the Royals to victory in an intense npower Championship match the hosts had edged.
Jason Roberts headed the visitors ahead after 19 minutes but Rickie Lambert levelled three minutes into the second half.
St Mary's was rocking as the match began and the noise went up a notch when talisman Lambert tested Adam Federici from an acute angle.
While Noel Hunt had penalty appeals rejected at the other end, Saints dominated the early exchanges and Federici was again called into action to tip an Adam Lallana drive around the post.
Danny Butterfield blazed wide as Nigel Adkins' side continued to press, although they fell behind out of the blue in the 19th minute. Jimmy Kebe's superb cross from the right flank was met at close range by Roberts, who beat Jose Fonte to the ball and headed Reading in front.
Lambert wasted a glorious chance to equalise in first-half stoppage time when he headed over at the far post, but made amends three minutes after the restart. Billy Sharp collected the ball in the box and pulled back for Lambert, whose venomous drive deflected off Kaspars Gorkss and past Federici.
Le Fondre came on in place of Jay Tabb in the midst of Southampton's domination as Reading boss Brian McDermott looked to alter the game's dynamics, with the move paying dividends in the 72nd minute. Reading broke through and Kebe cut back for the former Rotherham striker to smash home into the top right-hand corner.
Federici saved efforts from substitutes Steve De Ridder and Guly Do Prado as the clock wound down and Saints looked for an equaliser, with Lambert seeing a late penalty claim turned down.
Le Fondre wrapped up the three points in stoppage time, latching on to a misplaced Fonte header to round goalkeeper Kelvin Davis and net.