Reading started on the back foot, with the visiting U’s eager to press Reading at any opportunity.

Callum Harriott got into a very troubling position as far as Reading are concerned early on, sprinting into space on the right-hand side - but his delivery couldn’t find the intended target.

Harriott then found space on the Reading left, drilling a cross at Morrison who was lucky not to inadvertently turn the powerful delivery into the Reading net.

Sam Baldock then had Reading’s first effort, forcing a low save from Gerkin in the Colchester goal after manoeuvring into space on the edge of the area.

Olise then nearly found the run of Lucas Joao with an early cross, but despite the forward anticipating the delivery – the ‘keeper reacted quickly and claimed it just in front of the onrushing Joao.

The visitors took the lead in the first half, Jevani Brown getting the opener. Following a well worked move, Cohen Bramall provided a low cross which was met at the front post and flicked beyond Southwood neatly.

But, the underdogs would not go into the break level – with Lucas Joao levelling the game just before the break.

He was in the right place to finally meet a wicked delivery and headed with aplomb into the bottom corner. 1-1 at half time.

In the second half, Reading were much improved – largely due to second half sub Andy Rinomhota. He helped changed the game in the midfield and another midfielder, Michael Olise, continued to impress and provided a golden chance for Joao with a disguised through ball that cut the visiting defence in half.

Joao would not be denied his second of the game and finished confidently beyond the goalkeeper with the visiting defence stood motionless as they appealed for an offside. Not given, 2-1 Reading.

The Portuguese forward then made it 3-1 as he completed his hat-trick in style. Crowded in the box, he turned nearly into a yard of space and smashed it beyond the helpless goalkeeper.

It was nearly a dream debut for Melvin-Lambert late on after he found himself one-on-one with Dean Gerken. Unfortunately for the youngster, his effort was palmed away with relative ease.

Southwood produced a good stop, coming quickly off his line to narrow the angles, to maintain the 3-1 lead just before the final whistle.

That was the last chance of the game, as Reading book their place in the next round of the Carabao Cup.