SUPER-SUB Jem Karacan netted a 98th minute winner to give the Royals a deserved three points at Turf Moor.
Earlier in the second half Jay Tabb was struck by a clearance from close range by Burnley 'keeper Lee Grant and was knocked unconscious for 30 seconds delaying the play for six minutes for him to be stretchered off. Tabb did come round while on the field but was taken to hospital as a precaution.
His replacement, Karacan, tapped in deep in to stoppage time after fellow substitute Noel Hunt found time and space in the box to turn the ball across goal.
Although not a classic, Reading had the better of the game and Adam Le Fondre forced a good save from Grant at his near post in the 29th minute.
Winger Ross Wallace was the home side's most dangerous player and he twice went close from distance in the first half.
In the second, Brian McDermott's substitutions proved inspired as Noel Hunt, on for McAnuff at half-time, delivered a pin-point cross for Church to head agonisingly wide.
In the 80th minute, having been on the pitch no more than ten seconds after replacing Church, Mathieu Manset cut inside from the right of the box to curl an effort just wide of the far post.
Three minutes later Adam Le Fondre looked to have won a stone-wall penalty after being brought down by Andre Amougou (formerly Bikey) but the referee bewildered the Reading players and fans by awarding a goal-kick.
But the Royals got their reward for plugging away when Hunt and Karacan combined and have set up the team nicely for the visit of high-flying Derby County on Tuesday night (8pm ko).