The Royals saw off stubborn League Two opposition to seal a Fourth Round trip to Hillsborough in the Emirates FA Cup courtesy of a hat-trick from Icelandic striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
- Bodvarsson sidefoots home on the volley to hand the hosts the lead
- The Icelander produces an excellent angled header from distance to make it 2-0 before half-time.
- Reading change to their away shirts to the orange kit for the second half
- Bodvarsson completes his hat-trick by passing home a Gunter cross
Jaap Stam made ten changes to the side that drew at Hull at the weekend but retained a lot of experience in his starting eleven by bringing in the likes of Leandro Bacuna, Dave Edwards, Sone Aluko, Roy Beerens and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson. Chris Gunter was the only man to keep his place and he captained the team on the night he made his 250th appearance as a Royal.
A tepid start to the tie saw both sides size each other up for the first ten minutes, and although Stevenage had the ball in the back of the net, Matt Godden was flagged offside as he glanced an inswinging set piece inside the far post.
Chris Gunter did well to hack clear a low Danny Newton cross that was looking for Ben Kennedy in the middle soon after and it was Gunter who blocked Godden's strike at goal as the League Two side pressed for an opening goal.
And Anssi Jaakkola had to pull off a good shovelled stop to push a downward Godden header away from his goalmouth.
At the other end, Bacuna crossed from the right for Bodvarsson to cushion the ball and tee up Edwards for a strike. His left-footed effort seemed to strike a Stevenage arm but appeals were quickly waved away.
And Stevenage had penalty appeals dismissed when Bacuna bundled into one of the opposition inside the box - again referee Tim Robinson saw nothing.
Jack King forced Jaakkola into a good stop with a shot from the edge of the area after half an hour and the Royals were struggling to find any sort of fluency.
But the hosts took the lead moments later. Beerens fed Gunter on the left and he delivered a good cross into the box which looped up off a Stevenage head and dropped kindly for Bodvarsson who sidefooted home on the volley from close range.
Beerens supplied a cross from the same side soon after the restart and Bodvarsson flicked it on. It dropped to Aluko at the back post but instead of volleying first time with his right foot, he tried to bring it down and tee it up for his left boot - only to be dispossessed before he could get the ball under control.
Bodvarsson had a shot from 20 yards out charged down next after good work from Gunter had seen him almost pick out Aluko with a low centre, and the Icelander appealed for a penalty as he was bundled over by Jack King near the byline.
And Reading got the second goal their pressure deserved before the interval. Bacuna swept a delightful crossfield ball out to Gunter in space on the left flank and he crossed early towards the edge of the Stevenage area. Bodvarsson attacked it and produced a sublime header that arrowed past a helpless Tom King and went in off the inside of the right post.
Bacuna and Beerens exchanged intricate passes to work their way in behind the Stevenage back line in injury time, but the Dutchman's cross couldn't be controlled by Bodvarsson, looking for a hat-trick in the middle.
And there was still time for an Aluko cross to fall to Clement, whose drive was charged down and deflected behind for a corner, which referee Robinson didn't allow to be taken as he blew for half-time.
Half time | Reading 2-0 Stevenage
There was a noticeable change at the break - Reading emerged in orange shirts after what had been something of a kit clash in the first half.
But it was Stevenage who had the first glimpse of goal in the second period. Godden scampered onto a ball that deflected in behind the Reading back line and although Gunter delayed his shot, he still forced a save from Jaakkola at the near post. It cannoned out to the same man who lofted a cross to the back post this time, but Newton could only glance a difficult chance wide.
Reading broke from a Stevenage corner near the hour mark, and Aluko's pull back to Bodvarsson saw the Icelander control the ball, pivot, but scuff an effort into the arms of King.
However, it was 3-0 after 63 minutes. Kelly played a nice through ball for Gunter to scurry onto down the left and he fizzed a low cross into the middle where Bodvarsson was on hand to pass the ball into the net from close range - completing his hat-trick!
Reading were looking for more and on the counter attack Clement found Kelly who tried to thread a ball into Bodvarsson. But the striker couldn't connect with the ball on the slide and it bobbled behind for a goal kick.
Tom Pett had a good opportunity to pull a goal back when Stevenage got in behind down the right. But the midfielder skied his first time effort high over the bar when he had the chance to pick his spot from 15 yards out.
But the Royals were comfortable in their lead and can now look forward to a trip to Hillsborough in the Fourth Round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Full time | Reading 3-0 Stevenage
Reading: Jaakkola, Bacuna (Richards 80), Gunter (c), Ilori, Blackett, Kelly, Edwards, Clement, Beerens, Aluko, Bodvarsson.
Subs: Mannone, Andresson, Evans, McCleary, Popa, Kermorgant.
Goals: Bodvarsson 32, 44, 63
Stevenage: T King, Smith, Martin, J King, Kennedy (Samuel 71), Pett, Newton (Georgiou 85), Godden, Henry (c), McKee (Conlon 71), Wilmot.
Subs: Fryer, Franks, Wilkinson, Vancooten.
Referee: Mr T Robinson
Att: 4,986 (608 away)