Burnley banged on the door, but found the woodwork stood firm as Reading edged them out in a Madejski Stadium thriller.
Charlie Austin and Jay Rodriguez both hit the frame in a game they took to high-flying Reading.
But Jason Roberts' 11th minute strike ultimately proved enough as the Clarets were left to wonder how the Royals completed the double over Burnley.
Roberts scores the winner
It had taken a 99th minute winner to undo the Clarets in the clash at Turf Moor earlier in the season.
And the Clarets must have feared the worst as Austin's early header smacked the crossbar and Rodriguez headed flush against the post early in the second half.
So it proved as Eddie Howe's men put in a terrific performance, but ended up with nothing to show for all their efforts.
Martin Paterson returned to the bench alongside fellow striker Danny Ings as the unchanged Clarets sought their 10th win in 15 league games
But they were coming up against the form side of the division in Reading, who boasted six wins from their last seven at the Madejski and had third place in their sights.
However, it was a bright start by the Clarets and in the fifth minute Trippier's cross from a sweet move was just beyond the inrushing Josh McQuoid.
Seconds later the Clarets came even closer. McQuoid, who was influential in those early moments, swung over a perfect cross from the left and Austin rose unmarked to smack a header against the face of the crossbar.
Austin hits the bar
But 11 minutes in the hosts grabbed the opener with their first meaningful foray forward. McAnuff's low ball into the box caught the Clarets flat-footed and Roberts clipped his shot into the top corner of Lee Grant's goal from 12 yards.
That settled the home side, but the Clarets continued their patient, slick passing. And in the 27th minute the visitors came close to levelling as Rodriguez fizzed a long-range drive just wide of Adam Federici's right hand post.
A mad scramble moments later caused more flutters in the Reading defence, but the ball just wouldn't drop from Ross Wallace's dangerous free kick.
Burnley were enjoying plenty of possession as Reading looked content to play on the counter attack. But solid defending was limiting the Clarets to scraps and McCann snatched at a half chance three minutes before the interval and sliced his volley well wide.
However, the Clarets ended the half fortunate not to be two goals down as Ben Mee somehow saved the day. Ian Harte's free kick was spilled by Grant and in the ensuing scramble Mee, lying prone in the six-yard box, threw his face in the way of Hunt's follow-up to deflect the goalbound effort over the bar.
Ben Mee takes the plaudits
If that was a let off for Burnley, then Reading had a big escape of their own within a minute of the restart.
Austin escaped the shackles of Gorkss to find himself with just Federici to beat, but the Royals' keeper made a terrific block to deny the former Reading trainee.
And six minutes into the half Burnley again came within a whisker of grabbing the equaliser as the woodwork came to Reading's rescue again.
Rodriguez met Wallace's corner with a thumping header that had Federici beaten at his near post, but smacked flush off the right hand upright.
Burnley's luck appeared to be out and with 22 minutes remaining, Eddie Howe shuffled his pack, making a double substitution as Ings and Paterson replaced McQuoid and Austin.
However, almost instantly it took a goalline header from Kieran Trippier to deny Jimmy Kebe as he looped a header back over Grant from a deep cross.
But with three strikers on the pitch, Burnley continued to probe and with 17 minutes remaining Paterson's half volley dropped agonisingly just over the bar with Federici beaten.
It was now becoming a case of whether Reading could hang onto that early lead.
And just as five extra minutes were signalled, Rodriguez spurned the final chance as he curled a shot wide from the edge of the box following a slick one-two.
BURNLEY: Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Duff, Mee, Wallace, Marney (Bartley 79), McCann, McQuoid (Ings 68), Rodriguez, Austin (Paterson 68).
Subs: Jensen, Easton
Booked: Wallace 40, Duff 45, Rodriguez 48, Marney 66, Ings 87
READING: Federici, Connolly, Karacan, Pearce, Leigertwood, Hunt, McAnuff (Robson-Kanu 80), Kebe, Gorkss, Harte, Roberts (Le Fondre 75).
Subs: Tabb, Andersen, Cywka
Booked: Roberts 40, Gorkks 66
Ref: D Deadman
Att: 17,185 (476 Burnley)