Boro fall short in Championship test...
Stevenage bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup at the Third Round stage after three goals from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson made all the difference in a tightly contested replay at the Majedski Stadium.
After dominating the first 30 minutes, Reading struck with their first strike on goal and never looked back.
Bodvarsson added a second just before half-time and despite giving their all once the teams came back out for the break, there would be no comeback for the Super Boro as the Royals striker grabbed his third.
Darren Sarll had an almost full strength side to choose from and stuck with the same players that drew 0-0 in the original leg of this fixture just ten days prior.
Having been the better side back at the Lamex, the same pattern was unfolding early on at the Madesjki as Stevenage stifled the opposition defensively whilst looking dangerous in attack.
Matty Godden was the name on everybody’s lips during the opening 20 minutes as he saw a goal disallowed and another denied at point blank range.
Just 10 minutes in, Godden flicked in Joe Martin’s free-kick at the near post much to the delight of the travelling supporters, only to see the assistant’s flag raised.
It was the most delicate of touches and if indeed offside, was only by the smallest of margins.
Five minutes later, Godden was again denied with his head. This time from 6 yards out after Newton whipped a brilliant ball into the box, only for Jaakkola to get down well and make the stop.
The corners were racking up as Stevenage continued to press and but for a timely Reading block from a few yards out, Ben Wilmot would have surely put the Boro ahead as a goalline scramble ensued just before the half hour mark.
As the play continued, Matty Godden saw a penalty appeal turned down before Jack King worked Jaakkola once again from the edge of the box.
Frustration was building for the home side as they struggled to create - that was - until 31 minutes were up on the clock.
Bodvarsson turning in Gunter’s cross after it was flicked on by a Boro man towards the back-post. A cruel way to go behind after such an excellent opening to the game.
Reading grew into the half and by the 45 minutes were up, it was 2-0. Bodvarsson again, this time executing a brilliant diving header following a swift attack by the Royals.
With a two goal deficit to make up, Stevenage went right at Reading to begin the second half. Godden again prevented from getting on the scoresheet as Jaakkola continued to win that personal battle, the striker latching onto a loose ball inside the box before blasting at the keeper who stood firm.
After the ball came back out to him, Godden tried to tee up his strike partner, Newton, but his header fell wide of the post.
With the emphasis very much on attack, spaces were beginning to open up at the back and Bodvarsson could have got his hat-trick before 60 minutes as the Royals countered leaving him with a simple chance. Fortunately this time, the Icelander scuffed his effort at King.
The goal rather killed the game as a comeback appeared nigh on impossible with time beginning to dwindle down. Sarll made a double sub on 70 minutes to try and breathe some fresh life into the team - Kennedy and McKee making way for Conlon and Samuel.
There would be one more key chance for Stevenage. This time through Pett as Newton shurgged off Blackett on the right hand side of the box, before laying the ball out for the on-running Pett, who could only blast over the bar.
It was a night where Reading had a clinical edge, whereas Stevenage stuttered in front of goal. Quality when the moment mattered being the key difference in the game.
With 5 minutes to go, it was another breakthrough moment for the youth development at the club as Andronicos Georgiou came on for Danny Newton.
Although they will head back to Hertfordshire disappointed and out of the FA Cup, the Stevenage players will be able to hold their heads high after giving Championship opposition as good as they got over two legs.