Dave Kitson's volley upstaged Newcastle striker Michael Owen's return after a 10-month absence and kept Reading on course to qualify for the Uefa Cup.
Dave Kitson (right) smashes home Reading's winner
Owen had the ball in the net inside seven minutes but his effort was ruled out for offside, and after that the game drifted past the rusty striker.
The goal came on 51 minutes when Kitson smashed in Seol Ki-Hyeon's cross.
But Newcastle missed two good chances to level when Shola Ameobi and Obefami Martins both bungled free headers.
There was plenty of anticipation ahead of the match once it was confirmed that Owen was in the visitors' starting line-up.
It had been exactly a year since he had played for Newcastle and he almost made an immediate impact on his return when he was inches away from connecting with a cross - although he was ruled offside anyway.
And the linesman's flag denied him again, when six minutes later he slotted the ball into the bottom corner after running on to Martins' pass.
The action typified a bright start by both teams, with the game open and fast-paced - and Owen initially looking lively.
A mistake from Steve Harper almost handed Reading the lead, when the Newcastle keeper cleared straight to the feet of Doyle but his shot squirmed round the post after Emre did well to divert it.
From the corner, an unmarked Michael Duberry failed to keep his shot down when presented with a good chance.
Just before that, Harper may well have been facing a penalty had Titus Bramble not got away with a blatant shove on Doyle.
Newcastle then began to get into their rhythm and Milner's fierce shot dipped just too late and Martins mistimed his header from the corner when he seemed set to nod in.
As the half wore on, the teams cancelled each other out.
And Reading's mascot Kingsley the lion, got a little too close to the pitch while roaring his team on and was quickly spoken to by referee Mike Riley.
Riley requested Kingsley moved away from the touchline to behind the goal as his blue and white strip was causing the official to get him confused with some of the Reading players.
Kingsley was clearly in contravention of the 'no predators on the pitch rule', which seemed to be in place at that time judging by the limp forward lines.
But that soon changed after the break when Kitson showed a ruthless streak to smash in a volley after Oster had cleverly dummied Seol's cross.
It served to open the game up again and Newcastle should have levelled but Ameobi wasted a free header, directing it into the arms of Marcus Hahnemann.
And they were almost made to pay when Kitson latched on to Doyle's pass and flashed a shot just beyond the upright.
Wasteful finishing seemed the order of the night as Martins also made a mess of a free header as Newcastle sprung Reading's offside trap again.
Before that Milner had been unlucky with a low shot that just did not curl quite enough.
The night was a mixture of good and bad for Newcastle - as well as losing the match, the Magpies also lost Emre and Antoine Sibierski to what looked like serious injuries, while Owen managed a full 95 minutes.
Reading will be satisfied with the win that takes them seventh in the table - despite boss Steve Coppell's claims that his side are not ready for Europe next season.
Reading boss Steve Coppell:
"I thought the game was difficult to get hold of initially. But in the second half we attacked better had more purpose in our play.
"Even before the game I had thought the first goal would be decisive and it proved to be that way.
"As for Europe, our job is to get as many points as we can and if that means we qualify, we'll take it."
Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder on whether Owen will play for England this summer:
"I'm not worried about a fully-fit Michael Owen playing for anybody, as long as people realise he's a Newcastle player first.
"I can't look into the future but he'll now play two more games before the end of the season.
"He will finish the season with three Premiership games under his belt."
Reading: Hahnemann, De la Cruz, Ingimarsson, Duberry, Shorey, Ki-Hyeon, Gunnarsson (Harper 90), Oster (Bikey 90), Hunt, Doyle, Kitson (Long 89).
Subs Not Used: Federici, Halford.
Booked: Hunt, Kitson.
Goals: Kitson 51.
Newcastle: Harper, Solano, Bramble, Taylor, Carr, Milner, Emre (N'Zogbia 60), Dyer, Sibierski (Ameobi 54), Owen, Martins.
Subs Not Used: Srnicek, Onyewu, Carroll.
Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).