FIRST HALF goals from Dave Edwards and Joey van den Berg plus a late Jon Dadi Bodvarsson strike saw Reading ease past Barnsley 3-0 at the Mad Stad.
Royals produced a dominant opening 45 and were well worth their two-goal advantage courtesy of an Edwards header and stunning strike by van den Berg.
Barnsley made three changes at the break and did improve, but Reading netted again late on when substitute Bodvarsson headed in after Adrian Popa’s shot had been tipped onto the crossbar.
It was a welcome victory for the Royals after going three games without a win and it lifts them up to 16th in the table, nine points off the play-offs.
Jaap Stam named an unchanged side for the first time all season with the only alteration coming on the bench where Adrian Popa replaced Omar Richards.
Royals were making all the early running with Sone Aluko firing over the bar from the edge of the box while Liam Kelly had a shot blocked from a similar distance.
But the deadlock was broken on 20 minutes when Kelly whipped a corner into the near post, where Edwards met it with a glancing header to force it past goalkeeper Adam Davies, despite his best efforts to swat the ball clear.
While a header from a corner is a fairly routine way to find the net, the second goal nine minutes later was far from routine.
Van den Berg strode forwards from just inside the Barnsley half and unleashed a rocket from at least 25 yards into the top corner for just his second ever Reading goal, with the other coming in the League Cup back in August 2016.
Leandro Bacuna came close to adding a third as Reading were rampant, but volleyed just wide, while at the other end Vito Mannone finally had something to do in the 45th minute as he gathered in Harvey Barnes’ weak long-range effort.
Clearly unimpressed, Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom made three changes at half-time and his side instantly looked better with Zeki Fryers twice going close from two early free-kicks.
Stam made an early switch of his own, bringing on Jon Dadi Bodvarsson up front in place of
Yann Kermorgant and Reading almost made it 3-0 just past the hour mark.
After Bacuna’s stray pass had been recovered by van den Berg at one end, Royals broke with pace through Barrow on the left, who teed up his fellow winger Aluko, but he dragged his effort wide.
That proved to be Aluko’s last meaningful action as he was replaced by Adrian Popa shortly afterwards.
More sloppy passing around the back nearly proved Reading’s undoing with Barnes curling just wide as the visitors retained belief that they could work they way back into the contest.
Mannone was called into a stop from Brad Potts’ effort but it was the hosts who came closest to adding a third as Liam Moore tried his luck from 20 yards, but the ball came back off the post.
The visitors then hit the post themselves as the game ticked towards the final five minutes through the lively Barnes, but Moore was on hand to clear the rebound off the line.
And Royals added some gloss to the win when Bodvarsson headed in on the rebound after fellow sub Popa had seen his rasping drive tipped onto the crossbar.
READING: Mannone; Bacuna, McShane (c), Moore, Gunter; van den Berg, Edwards, Kelly (Ilori 81); Aluko (Popa 67), Barrow, Kermorgant (Bodvarsson 55).
Subs not used: Jaakkola, Blackett, Beerens, Clement.
Goals: Edwards (20), van den Berg (29), Bodvarsson (89)
BARNSLEY: Davies; Yiadom, MacDonald (c) (Pearson 45), Lindsay, Fryers; Williams, Gardner (Thiam 45); Potts, Moncur, Barnes; Ugbo (Bradshaw 45).
Subs not used: Townsend, McCarthy, McGeehan, Hedges.
Yellow card: Williams (83)
Referee: Darren Bond
Attendance: 13,317 (inc. 336 away)