Stephen Hunt kept Reading's faint Uefa Cup hopes alive as Fulham caretaker boss Lawrie Sanchez tasted defeat in his first game in charge.
Hunt celebrates his goal after 15 minutes
Reading dominated the opening exchanges and Brynjar Gunnarrsson went close twice as Fulham played on the break.
Fulham saw Papa Bouba Dioup's header disallowed on the stroke of half-time.
Simon Davies' shot was saved by Marcus Hahnemann and Reading's Kevin Doyle had a header ruled out for offside before Michael Brown hit the crossbar late on.
Reading started with positive intent and urgency from the kick-off with the visitors having to defend early on.
Ki-Hyeon Seol crossed dangerously and Ian Pearce was forced to clear anxiously.
It was a sign of things to come with Fulham taking 11 minutes to launch a meaningful attack on the break when Brian McBride drove his shot straight at the keeper Antti Niemi.
However, they carved out a great chance when following a flick on from a corner Pearce struck his effort over from six yards out.
Fulham's wastefulness was almost immediately punished when after good work from Kevin Doyle and Seol the lively Hunt broke the deadlock from close in.
To add to the visitors plight they were forced into making a substitution when Ian Pearce hobbled off and was replaced by Zat Knight.
A bright spot for Fulham came when Liam Rosenior's powerful run down the right led to a cross which Heidar Helguson failed to control.
Fulham were looking to play on the break and their best hope of scoring looked to come from corners or set-pieces.
A feature of the Royals' game was their hard work giving Fulham little time to settle on the ball as they chased collectively as a unit.
Following a flowing move Reading broke out of defence and Gunnarson forced a save from Niemi.
Fulham had a speculative 40-yard effort from Queudrue fly over but at least it was a sign of a measure of positivity.
The half-time break did nothing to dampen Reading's enthusiasm and there was a symmetry to the pattern of the game.
Steve Coppell's side scenting a second goal continued with the same purpose and dynamism that they had displayed in the opening exchanges.
But to Fulham's credit they showed greater spirit and carried more of an attacking threat as the half wore on as they sought an equaliser.
The powerful presence of midfielder Diop unleashed a powerful shot from outside the area but it sailed over Hahnemann's crossbar.
Davies had Fulham's best chance when he got away from his marker but could not beat Hahnemann who beat the ball away to safety.
Reading felt they had doubled their advantage late on when Doyle's bullet header from a free-kick was chalked off for offside.
But Fulham almost had the final word when Brown's curling strike hit the crossbar.
It was another miserable away day for Fulham who have had only one win in their last 16 games but for Reading hope springs eternal.
Reading boss Steve Coppell:
"To be fair I thought we played until we scored then it was almost a relaxation.
"Our recent run has developed a certain amount of anxiety regarding winning.
"We were conscious of just getting the three points against a team that weren't in a desperate situation but desperately wanted to win."
Fulham caretaker-boss Lawrie Sanchez on his first game in charge:
"I think everyone in the stadium knows that we deserved at least a point.
"We conceded a poor goal and we won't let in another one like that during my time in charge.
"We had a perfectly good goal disallowed for offside and we hit the crossbar in the last minute.
"The players gave me everything they had and I cannot ask for any more."
Reading: Hahnemann, De la Cruz, Bikey, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Ki-Hyeon (Oster 70), Gunnarsson, Harper, Hunt, Kitson (Long 70), Doyle. Subs Not Used: Federici, Halford, Duberry.
Booked: Hunt, Shorey.
Goals: Hunt 15.
Fulham: Niemi, Rosenior, Pearce (Knight 25), Bocanegra, Queudrue, Routledge, Diop, Brown, Davies (Dempsey 68), Helguson (Montella 71), McBride. Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Radzinski.
Ref: L Mason (Lancashire).