Lucas Joao and Michael Morrison ensured Reading returned to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

For the home team, however, it was a sixth loss in a row and another hammer blow to Dean Holden’s hopes to hold on to his job as head coach.

Joao had time to control Michael Olise’s free kick from the right in the 42nd minute before he coolly hit his 20th goal of the season with a right-footed shot from eight meters.

Three minutes later, Morrison exchanged passes with Joao on the edge of the box before evading some weak challenges to force the ball past Daniel Bentley from close range.

Reading had the opportunity to extend its lead after the break, while the lifeless city was hardly a worthwhile chance.

Lucas Joao celebrates the start of Reading

Before the game, owner Steve Lansdown warned that a quick change of form would be necessary if changes weren’t implemented.

Under pressure Holden made three changes to the 6-0 win over Watford, adding Adrian Mariappa, Adam Nagy and Nahki Wells to replace Ryley Towler, Han-Noah Massengo and Antoine Semenyo.

Reading chief Veljko Paunovic made the same number of changes after his team’s 2-1 home defeat to Millwall, choosing Andy Yiadom, Tomas Esteves and Omar Richards to replace Tom Holmes, Josh Laurent and Lewis Gibson.

Neither team could achieve much in a fault-prone first half hour, but Reading looked all the more threatening when Omar Richards deflected a shot far.

Olise’s shot was blocked from the resulting corner. At the other end, there was nothing to test goalkeeper Rafael Cabral as City worked hard and with little success.

The pressure from the visitors increased, Ovie Ejaria’s shot narrowly deflected and Jack Hunt cleared the line from Richards.

Then the two goals came in three minutes and Holden left the dugout at halftime knowing that his job was hanging by a thread.

His team started the second half on the front foot, Famara Diedhiou had deflected a shot wide and Tomas Kalas saved Cabral with a header from the resulting corner.

But Reading soon looked more dangerous again. Holden responded by sending Semenyo, Kasey Palmer and Tyreeq Bakinson in the 66th minute, and withdrawing Jamie Paterson, Henri Lansbury and Zak Vyner.

Still, the crowd dominated as a shot was blocked by Esteves and Bentley scored a good save to fend off Tom McIntyre’s near-post-flick.

Reading looked like every inch a candidate for promotion, while City, seriously injured, is completely lost after a brilliant start to the season.