JAAP Stam says matching Burton Albion’s physical approach was behind their crucial 3-1 win at Pirelli Stadium in last night’s relegation battle.

Royals secured their first victory in nine Championship matches on Tuesday night to move six points clear of the drop zone, and leave Burton stranded to the foot of the table.

It also helped erase the painful memory of their 2-1 home defeat by the Brewers in late December as a Jon Dadi Bodvarsson brace and Chris Gunter strike secured three much-needed points.

Under-pressure boss Stam confessed: “Everybody knew what we needed to do. It wasn’t easy against a team who need the points as well.

“They were physical and direct and we needed to match them in order to get into our stride and score goals.

“I thought we did well throughout the team, every player worked hard and managed to score a couple of very good goals. I was very, very happy with that.”

Bodvarsson’s opener – Reading’s first league goal in 312 minutes of action – was cancelled out by a Lucas Akins penalty early in the second half.

But Gunter put Royals back in front with his first goal in 15 months before Bodvarsson added a third to put him top of the scoring charts with eight for the season.

And Stam admitted it was refreshing to see his side finally take their chances.

“We had opportunities to score against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup last week and didn’t, while they managed to score every opportunity they had,” he reflected.

“We spoke about it, we needed to do better and to bring a certain physicality to the game as well. That’s what you saw on Tuesday and the boys succeeded in doing it very well.”

Reading Chronicle:

Yann Kermorgant and new loan signing Tommy Elphick celebrate at the final whistle.

Results near the bottom also went Reading’s way on Tuesday with Sunderland losing at Birmingham and Hull drawing at home with Leeds.

A relieved Stam added: “You are always looking at the table and it was very important for us to win on Tuesday night.

“Of course you also rely on other to do their job and win against other teams below us.

“The win gives us a boost ahead of another very important game against Millwall on Saturday. Hopefully we can do it again.”

Stam is closing in on his second January signing this week with rumours Derby County striker Chris Martin is set to join on loan before tonight’s 11pm transfer deadline.

That would follow the capture of Tommy Elphick on loan from Aston Villa, and Stam was clearly impressed with the defender’s contribution on Tuesday after coming off the bench in the 57th minute – moments before Gunter’s important second goal.

“We wanted somebody with a certain character, ability and experience after the injury to our skipper Paul McShane,” stated Stam. “He has that certain physicality and ability and I know he can do a job for us.”