LIAM KELLY’S stellar brace saw Reading FC safely into the second round of the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 win over League One outfit Gillingham.

Royals boss Jaap Stam 10 academy players in his matchday squad and it was fitting that both goals came from graduate Kelly.

In what turned out to be an intense fixture, the 21-year-old broke the deadlock with 20 minutes to play with a screamer of a shot.

Kelly played the ball out to the right flank before receiving it back from Pelle Clement just inside the area. He finished the well-worked move by smashing the ball first time into the top corner.

The midfield maestro killed the game off with five minutes remaining when he found himself in space on the edge of the area and blasted the ball into the back of the net after a neat pass from Modou Barrow.

The result sees Reading progress to the next stage of the cup and their opponents will be named on Thursday.

Stam named a side packed with youth as the average age of the squad was just 22 years old.

The Royals started brightly, dominating the first five minutes of the game with fluid passing out from defence.

The experienced defensive pairing of Chris Gunter and Liam Moore suffered a lapse in concentration early on when they allowed Tom Eaves in behind, but his cross was cleared by Gunter. 

Royals survived a penalty shout after 22 minutes when Scott Wagstaff burst into the area and seemed to be clipped by Omar Richards, but referee Brett Huxtable waved play on. 

Andy Rinomhota had the best chance of the first half when he was played onto his right foot on the edge of the area, but his shot fizzed wide of the post. 

Rinomhota's effort seemed to give him an extra burst of confidence on his first professional outing, and moments later skinned two Gills defenders on the right flank before running out of play. 

Gunter won a corner on the half-hour mark after driving the ball from deep before blasting a shot at Max Ehmer, and Royals fans felt they should have had a penalty from the resulting corner when Moore went down claiming to have his shirt pulled, but Sam Smith's header over the bar resulted in a goal kick. 

Josh Barrett had a good chance for Reading five minutes before the interval, twisting and turning before curling a shot over the bar from the edge of the area.

Moore then had a rare shot after dribbling at the Gills defence, his shot was blocked back to him and his header was met by goalkeeper Thomas Holy.

Modou Barrow almost made an immediate impact after coming on at half time, when he fainted past Luke O'Neill before blasting a shot over the bar.

Jaakkola came to Reading's aid again when the ball fell to Eaves on the penalty spot, and the young goalkeeper palmed away his strike for a corner.

Liam Kelly had good opportunity moments later when he performed some neat trickery to juggle the ball over one defender, before skipping past three more, but his shot was poor and sailed over the bar. 

Moore then had another chance on 56 minutes when he met Kelly's corner perfectly but his header went straight into the hands of Holy.

As the game seemed destined to end as a stalemate, Kelly picked up the ball and created something from nothing, playing the ball wide in a one-two with Clement before finessing his effort first time into the top corner. 

Clement almost got a goal himself on 85 minutes when he cut inside on his left foot, curling wide.

Just seconds later, Barrow got his first assist for Reading, teeing up Kelly for his second of the game, his right footed strike blasting into the left hand side of the net.

The Royals are back at the Madjeski on Saturday when they welcome last year's play-off semi-final opponents, Fulham.

Reading: Jaakkola, Gunter (c), Richards (Andresson 63) Moore, Evans, Kelly, Rinomhota, Barrett (Quinn 57), Clement, Smith, Mendes (Barrow 45).
Subs not used: Legg, East, Frost, Loader.

Gillingham: Holy, O'Neill, Ehmer, Ogilvie, Wagstaff, Hessenthaler (Chapman 78), Wright, Oldaker, Parker, Eaves (Nash 74), Cundle (Wilkinson 69)

Subs not used: Hadler, O'Mara, Byrne, List.

Attendance: 5,936 (450 Gillingham)