West Ham United Development Squad's Barclays U21 Premier League Group 1 title hopes suffered a setback when they fell to a 3-0 defeat at Reading on Friday.
Ian Hendon's team travelled to Hogwood Park with high hopes of extending their five-match winning run, but goals from Alex Pearce, Jordan Obita and Adam Le Fondre saw the Royals stop them in their tracks.
With Jordan Spence, Rob Hall and Leo Chambers absent with the first-team squad, Hendon handed Jake Larkins and Frazer Shaw their second starts of the season, while second-year scholar Elliot Lee led the line up front.
Centre-back Pearce shot the home side in front on eleven minutes following a corner delivered by former Republic of Ireland left-back Ian Harte, whose set-plays were a constant menace to the Hammers.
Larkins was called into action a short time later, making a fine save to deny Aaron Tshibola before the visitors created their first clear chance. Unfortunately, Paul McCallum saw his header pushed to safety. Reading finished the opening half the stronger, though, with Dan Potts clearing a Le Fondre lob off the line before Pearce headed narrowly wide on the stroke of half-time.
Into the second period and the lively Lee shot wide before England Under-19 forward doubled Reading's lead at the second attempt on 56 minutes after his initial attempt had been kept out.
Having gone two goals clear, the Royals upped the pressure on their young opponents, with Dominic Samuel shooting wide, Le Fondre seeing another shot cleared off the line and Obita being denied by Larkins.
Pearce then had a goal disallowed before former Rotherham United striker Le Fondre completed the scoring in the final minute, heading home an inch-perfect cross from Harte at the far post.
Hendon's side remain top of the Group 1 table, but will now seek to re-group before they travel to second-place Arsenal for their next league fixture on Friday 9 November.
Development Squad: Larkins, Driver, Potts, Moncur, Wearen, Shaw, Turgott, Lletget, McCallum, Fanimo, E.Lee (Piquionne 58)
Subs not used: Guzman Rosique, Ruddock, Powell, K.Lee