QPR LADIES signed-off the 2012/13 season with defeat to title-chasing Reading at Honeycroft on Sunday.
Rangers battled bravely but two goals either side of half-time ensured the Royals returned to Berkshire with maximum points.
Francesca Kirby fired a brace before strikes from Gemma Sims and Cheryl Williams sunk an injury-hit R’s.
Manager Martino Chevannes named a depleted side following Thursday night's extra-time exertions in the Middlesex Senior Cup final.
Katie O’Leary, Elly Maggs and Jeta Bytyqi missed out through injury while a same fate befell R’s goalkeeper Sophie Cheadle, absent for the final day as Naomi Swift took charge between the sticks.
Reading – knowing victory would take them top – began on the frontfoot, creating a clear-cut chance within three minutes. Kirby broke the R’s offside trap but was denied by Swift, racing out quickly to smother the Royals striker’s charge.
Kirby had another sight of goal moments later as a deft header from Williams’ floated cross drifted wide of Swift’s far post.
It was third time lucky for Kirby, though, who made no mistake from the Royals next attack. Neat interplay in midfield released the striker before toe-poking the ball past the advancing Swift with ease.
Kirby caused the R’s defence problems shortly after as her pull-back found Williams, whose shot was blocked by Swift from point-blank range.
Respite was brief for the hosts as Kirby doubled her tally on 20 minutes. The Royals striker finished coolly into the bottom corner after a surging run split the R’s rearguard.
Another attack from the visitors four minutes later almost provided a third but Stacie Donnelly’s dipping effort flashed just over the crossbar.
The R’s injury problems worsened as captain Jade Dempster limped off midway through the first half. Sophie Fogarty replaced Dempster with Sarah Staples taking over the armband.
Rangers felt an injustice on the half-hour mark as Royals goalkeeper Grace Moloney was penalised for handling outside the penalty area. Staples’ goalbound effort was blocked by Moloney, who was spared a dismissal with just a caution.
At the other end the woodwork came to the R’s rescue as Kirby’s towering header cannoned off the top of the crossbar.
The Royals were denied again moments later as Swift was called upon to palm Rebecca Jane’s teasing cross away to safety.
Reading continued where they left off in the second half, creating a third goal within eight minutes of the re-start. Williams proved instrumental again for the visitors, floating in a pinpoint corner from which Sims powered a header into the net.
Rangers rallied through Fogarty, who finished off a flowing R’s move by stinging the palms of Moloney with a long-range curling effort.
Another set-piece proved the R’s undoing moments later, though, as Rangers fell further behind shortly before the hour mark. Williams added her name to the scoresheet, meeting Lois Roche’s free-kick to side-foot the ball in at the near post.
Williams went close to adding a fifth after a neat turn on the edge of the area but her subsequent shot was easily collected by Swift.
There was time for one final chance but Shona Chitate-Samuriwo dragged Kirsten Thomson’s pull-back harmlessly wide as the R’s search for a late consolation proved elusive.
QPR: Swift, Ishmael, Glynn, Staples, Gover, Dempster (S.Fogarty 26), Thomson, Chitate-Samuriwo, Meadows (Petit 46), Pond, Walker.