READING Under 23s climbed to third in the Premier League 2 table after a lively 3-2 victory over Stoke City at St.George’s Park.

All five goals came in the second half on Sunday when a Josh Barrett brace and Danny Loader strike secured all three points for Scott Marshall’s visitors.

And in another boost for Royals, full-back Tennai Watson made his long-awaited injury terms with his first outing since April.

While neither side managed to score in the opening 45 minutes, there were still plenty of chances at both ends.

Barrett went close early on with a 25-yard free kick that brought the best out of Stoke keeper Daniel Gyollai.

Royals’ midfielder threatened again soon after with a strong run into the Potters box before testing Gyollai with a powerful shot.

But Marshall’s men finally got their noses in front three minutes into the second half when Barett’s low drive from just inside the box had the pace to beat Gyollai and nestle in the bottom corner.

Reading Chronicle:

Tennai Watson made his comeback from injury.

However, Reading’s celebrations were soon cut short when Stoke grabbed a swift equaliser, the unmarked Tyrese Campbell slotting past George Legg to make it 1-1.

But the visitors quickly regrouped and regained the lead in the 68th minute when Barrett’s blistering strike was too hot for Gyollai to handle and went in off the Potters stopper.

And Marshall’s men managed to kill off their hosts with a vital third goal eight minutes from time thanks to a smart finish from England Under 17s World Cup winner, Loader.

Stoke did pull one back in the 90th minute through substitute Shola Ayoola, but Royals rode out the final few minutes to claim an impressive victory on the road.

Royals Under 23s are back in action this Thursday when they take on Arsenal at Boreham Wood in the Premier League International Cup (7pm).

Reading U23: Legg, Holmes, Sheppard, Andresson, Medford-Smith, East, Watson (McIntyre 31), Holsgrove, House (Rollinson 83), Loader, Barrett. Subs not used: Rosario, Shokunbi, Howe. Booked: Medford-Smith 67.