SAM Smith scored a hat-trick to send Reading Under 23s into the Premier League 2 Division Two play-offs after a 3-1 win against Stoke City.

The 20-year-old striker netted twice before half time before completing a memorable treble late on in the Madejski Stadium victory.

Scott Marshall’s men will now travel to Aston Villa for the semi final on a date between Friday, April 27 and Monday, April 30.

Smith had the bit between his teeth from the start and brought a vital save out of Joe Bursik after being put through on goal by Joseph Mendes.

Gabriel Osho was an inch away from touching in Ryan East’s free-kick moments later as the hosts continued to dominate.

Stoke, though, were proving stubborn opponents and they remained on level terms when Mendes was sent clean through, only for Bursik to race out of his area and clear the danger.

However, the pressure finally told when Smith broke the deadlock in the 36th minute.

Tyler Frost, who had been switched to wing-back, burst down the flank before crossing to Smith.

The striker still had plenty to do, but he managed to squeeze a left-footed shot between Bursik and the near post for a deserved lead.

It took Smith just another six minutes to double the home side’s advantage.

This time he latched onto a ball over the top, calmly rounded Bursick then rolled the ball into an empty net to strengthen Royals’ grip.

The Potters responded after the break with Saido Berahino bringing the best out of Royals’ stopper Liam Driscoll.

Reading Chronicle:

Royals Under 23s boss, Scott Marshall.

Driscoll also produced a vital save to tip over a long-range effort from Ollie Shenton.

But the visitors got right back in the match soon after when they pulled one back through William Forester, who was free to head home from close range from Shenton's free-kick.

Royals recovered from the blow and carved out a number of decent chances.

Danny Loader’s smart pass set up Smith, only for the youngster’s shot to crash against the post.

Bursik then had to get his timing spot on to stop Loader’s pass from reaching substitute Ben House in front of goal.

Royals, though, were also relieved to see a Berahino free kick fly into the stands towards the closing stages.

But Marshall’s men secured their place in the semi finals when Smith notched his third of the night with four minutes to go.

The striker timed his run perfectly again to collect Loader’s telling pass before rounding Bursik and slotting into the bottom corner.

Reading U23: Driscoll, Odimayo, Osho (c), McIntyre (Burley 61), Frost, East, Watson, Rinomhota, Mendes (House 61), Loader (Medford-Smith 88), Smith. Subs not used: Desbois, Howe. Booked: Rinomhota.

Stoke City: Bursik, Edwards (Niakate 61), McJannet, Sorenson (Greenidge 61), Forrester, Collins, Toure (Pemberton 77), Shenton, Berahino, Twyford, Jarvis. Subs not used: Allen, Ayoola.