Millwall remain just above the Championship drop zone after free-scoring Reading eased to a comfortable win at The Den.
The Royals came to SE16 having bagged 12 goals in their previous two outings, but were struggling to make any headway against a well-organised Millwall side for the opening half an hour.
Unfortunately an error by Lions keeper Stephen Bywater gifted Pavel Pogrebnyak Reading's opener six minutes before the break and further goals in quick succession from Alex Pearce (71mins) and Daniel Williams (74mins) put the result beyond doubt.
It had all started so promisingly for Ian Holloway's charges.
The boss made five changes to the side that drew with fellow basement boys Sheffield Wednesday midweek, handing full debuts to DJ Campbell and Shaun Williams.
Defender Mark Beevers came in for the suspended Shane Lowry, with Liam Feeney and Josh Wright in for the departed Liam Trotter and Andy Keogh.
The home side looked bright and inventive in the opening exchanges and nearly went ahead on three minutes when Campbell's snap-shot was blocked by keeper Alex McCarthy in the visiting goal.
At the other end skipper Jobi McAnuff's effort flew across the face of goal and Williams tested Bywater, who easily gathered the latter's long-range effort.
Millwall created a couple of half-chances, but there was no joy for either Campbell or Steve Morison, whose crisp hooked volley whistled past the post.
Jordan Obita’s 25-yard free-kick was tipped over for a corner by Bywater and The Lions then had a lucky let-off when Adam Le Fondre, scorer of hat-tricks in his last two games, lashed the ball well wide after Garath McCleary did well to jink into the area.
Reading were forced to make a change 12 minutes before half-time when Hope Akpan hobbled off and was replaced by Jake Taylor.
Busy midfielder Martyn Woolford nearly caught the visiting defence out as they were re-grouping when, seconds after the substitution, he sent a 20-yarder a fraction over the bar.
However it was Reading who took the lead - and in fortuitous circumstances too - as the game headed towards the break.
A long Chris Gunter pass was played into the box, Bywater inexplicably dropped and the ball fell invitingly for Pogrebnyak who steadied himself and then fired home.
It was so nearly 2-0 four minutes later, but Le Fondre was inches away from connecting with an inviting delivery and Holloway's men breathed again.
Millwall could have hauled themselves level on 51 minutes when Morison's deft through ball picked out Feeney and put him through on goal, but he fired straight at a grateful McCarthy in the Reading goal.
Holloway made a double change just before the hour mark, taking off Feeney and Wright for Martin and Jermaine Easter and then shortly after introduced John Marquis as he went all out for a leveller.
The next goal was always going to be a crucial one and unfortunately it went Reading's way. Bywater did really well to push Pogrebnyak’s header away, only for Pearce to react quickest and fire the rebound home.
The result was put beyond doubt three minutes later when Williams fired home at the second attempt after Bywater had saved his initial effort.
Millwall keeper Bywater was called into action again nine minutes from time to keep out McAnuff's angled shot, whilst Lions sub Marquis was denied a consolation goal by McCarthy, who tipped his looping goalbound header over for a corner.
There was to be no consolation for The Lions, however, who now face three fellow strugglers in the next four games that will have a significant impact in the relegation battle.
Bywater; Fredericks, Shittu, Beevers (Marquis, 70mins), Malone; Woolford, Wright (Easter, 58mins), Williams; Feeney (Martin, 57mins), Morison, Campbell. Subs not used: Gerrar, Dunne, Robinson, Abdou.
Campbell (30mins), Williams (41mins)
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre (Robson-Kanu, 77mins), McAnuff, McCleary, Akpan (Taylor, 32mins), Gorkss, Williams, Obita. Subs not used: Federici, Kelly, Drenthe, Hector.
Bookings: Pearce (61mins), Pogrebnyak (63mins)
Scorers: Pogrebnyak (39mins), Pearce (71mins), Williams (74mins)
Att: 11,174 (away 1,236)