Two goals in the space of five minutes in the second half did the damage and the team's task was made all the tougher with the dismissal of Shannon Maloney.
But the ladies dug deep, pulled a goal back from the penalty spot through skipper Sam Pittuck and pushed the title-contenders all the way at Harlow Town FC.
"It was a gutsy performance," said manager Karen, whose side are next in action at Gillingham in the FAPWL on Sunday week, January 27.
The first half was evenly contested with a gilt-edged chance for each team. Wendy Martin was denied one-on-one by Reading goalkeeper Charlotte Chard before Sam Pittuck cleared off the line.
Reading then took a grip of the game. Becky Jane hit the post on 48 minutes, Stacie Donnelly opened the scoring two minutes later and then Jane made it 2-0 with 55 minutes on the clock.
Sam struck from the spot to make it 2-1 but the ladies couldn't find an equaliser.
"It was always going to be an uphill struggle after giving two goals away and then having a player sent off," added Karen.
"We had a few regular first team players away but credit to the ladies, their work rate was excellent and we will build on the performance and go into are next league game against Gillingham with confidence."
Spurs Ladies: Picton, Pittuck, Schillaci, Downie, Heath (Marcoci, 75), Maloney, Cooper, Burr, Smith, Martin, Baptiste.