Reading manager Veljko Paunovic admits he “feels the pain” of the 3-0 defeat at home to Preston.
Preston were the superior side throughout, though Daniel Johnson squandered a penalty shortly after half-time with the score at 0-0.
Scott Sinclair and Emil Riis Jakobsen then struck in a four-minute spell to give Preston a healthy advantage over the Sky Bet Championship leaders.
Two minutes into stoppage time, as the Royals attempted to retrieve the deficit, Brad Potts completed the visitors’ scoring after a fast break.
“I’m not disappointed but I feel the pain,” said Paunovic, whose side remain three points clear at the top of the table.
“When you lose a game, you have to absorb it. That’s what I told the players.
“You have to quickly bounce back and convert the pain into a positive energy for the next game.
“The next game is all we have. If we lose or we win, we say – next day, next game.
“We have to acknowledge that we weren’t at our best today.
“The first half was back and forth with both teams battling for a creation of opportunities to score.
“We had a sloppy start to the second half, when we conceded a penalty [which was missed].
“But this helped us to bounce back and we had a huge reaction to that, creating two opportunities to score.
“Yet if you don’t score those clear opportunities that we had, you can expect that it can go against you.
“Then we conceded and started to be very anxious. We were too anxious and you cannot be like that against a team that is so organised and has a good spirit.”
Preston have failed to pick up a point at home this season but secured a fourth successive victory in an unbeaten five-match run on their travels.
“This seems to be quite common for us on the road,” Preston manager Alex Neil said. “We’ve been excellent on the road.
“First of all, I’m delighted with the win. But I’m still a bit perplexed at how poor we’ve been at home in comparison to being away.
“But we’ll enjoy tonight. We needed a good response from the players after the last two games, which have been tough for us at home.
“The one thing that we have never lacked is spirit, endeavour and effort. And tonight I thought that we added a bit of quality to that.
“I thought that when we missed the penalty, that galvanised us a little bit. And once we got the first goal, that was really the key.
“Reading then came at us a bit more but we then really damaged them with our transition play and counter-attacks.”