Samuel strikes as Royals coast to 3-0 winThe Royal cruised to a fourth successive win and a fourth consecutive clean sheet in the Championship, taking all three points against Burton thanks to goals from Dominic Samuel, Danny Williams and a John Brayford own goal.
Samuel, starting his first league game for Reading, slid in to convert Roy Beerens' low cross at the far post to open the scoring and soon after Williams tapped home from a similar position after good work from Jordan Obita. Substitute Yakou Meite forced an own goal from Albion defender Brayford with 15 minutes of the match remaining and Reading went third!
Manager Jaap Stam was forced to make a few changes to the starting eleven ahead of the game, Yann Kermorgant and John Swift missing through injury so Dominic Samuel earned his first league start in a Royals shirt and Jordan Obita came into the starting line-up. Roy Beerens was also back, having missed the win at Wigan two weeks earlier, replacing Callum Harriott out wide.
The hosts lined up in a 5-3-2 style, with Obita and Gunter fulfilling wing back positions, Blackett moving into join Moore and McShane in the middle, Beerens playing centrally and McCleary joining Samuel in attack.
A half chance fell to Jackson Irvine with five minutes played but he headed harmlessly over. At the other end Gunter played a lovely ball into Samuel who, given a glimpse of goal, lashed a right-footed effort into the side netting.
Albion had begun well though as the Royals tried to adapt to a new style of playing and Stuart Beavon came close when he scrappily hooked an effort at goal on the turn, 10 yards out. But a Royals body got in the shot's way and Al Habsi was untroubled.
But Reading began to find their feet and broke the deadlock with little more than 20 minutes played. Jordan Obita won the ball well in an advanced position and it fell for Beerens in space. He took on his defender inside the box, drilled low towards goal and Samuel slid in at the far post to turn it over the line from a tight angle!
Al Habsi plucked a looping Chris O'Grady header out of the air with relative ease, but Reading were looking for a second and it soon came their way. McCleary won the ball back this time and found Obita in space down the left, he fizzed a fantastic first time low cross into the middle and Williams simply tapped high into the Albion net at the far post for 2-0.
A Burton counter attack had Blackett and Moore in a bit of a tangle soon after, Dyer's cross cleared by Blackett but against the floored Moore and almost falling for O'Grady. But Al Habsi swept up.
Samuel was causing the visitors problems, first appealing for a handball when he looked to get on the end of a header that was floated back into the danger zone inside the Burton box. Then his pace forced John Mousinho into an untidy challenge that again saw penalty appeals waved away.
McShane nearly made it 3-0 - a floated McCleary corner kick was met by the head of the skipper and his downward effort struck the legs of an Albion player and Burton cleared their lines.
Reading were in control and another nice one-two down the left saw an Obita cross turned behind for a corner. But Burton defended this one with ease and Reading had to settle for a two-goal cushion going in at half-time.
Half-time: Reading 2-0 Burton Albion
Obita was enjoying himself in a more attacking role. He crossed early in the second half to find McCleary in the middle and the winger's first time volley flew just over the bar.
Irvine passed a shot towards the Reading goal but Al Habsi collected it comfortably. At the other end soon after, Samuel found himself in behind the back line and he picked out McCleary with a pull back, only for McCleary to arrow over from the edge of the area.
O'Grady swept a hooked effort high into the stand just before the hour but the Royals were in cruise control. Although it took a smart save from Al Habsi to preserve the clean sheet when Beavon was played in and struck fierce effort at goal.
But the home side had a third goal moments later. Substitute Yakou Meite cut in from the right and rifled low and hard towards the bottom left corner. Jon McLaughlin saved it, but it ricocheted off John Brayford and into the back of the net for an own goal.
Will Miller almost got a consolation in the last of the ninety minutes, but drilled across the face of goal from a difficult angle. Reading were well worthy of the scoreline and moved into third place in the league ladder.
Full-time:Reading 3-0 Burton Albion
Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Blackett, L Moore, McShane (c), Evans, Obita, Williams, Beerens (Kelly 86), McCleary (Mendes 76), Samuel (Meite 67).
Subs: S Moore, Watson, Gravenberch, Harriott.
Yellow: McCleary, McShane
Goals: Samuel (22), Williams (29), Brayford (og)
Burton Albion: McLaughlin, Brayford, Mousinho (c), Turner (Flanagan 78), Williamson (Naylor 71), Palmer, Irvine, Dyer, Beavon, Akins, O'Grady (Miller 67).
Subs: Bywater, Choudhury, Harness, Barker.
Att: 15,545 (446 away)