Reading head into the international break off the back of a resounding 4-0 win over fellow strugglers Cambridge United in front of the highest crowd of the season to date.

Sam Smith netted against his former club inside 15 minutes and Femi Azeez doubled the advantage with the last kick of the first half. Pressing for a goal of their own in a competitive second half, Lewis Wing made sure of the three points with a goal 25 minutes from time before Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan came off the bench to complete a perfect afternoon’s work.

In front of a buoyant crowd of over 15,600, the Royals started with a high tempo, but it was the visitors who looked to have settled into the match quickest, albeit without ever testing Joel Pereira. Michael Morrison, returning to face the club he once captained, nearly opened the scoring for the U’s but could only send his header wide of the far post.

Up the other end, Harvey Knibbs’ pass into the box, intended for Ben Elliott, was intercepted but Smith was on hand to fire past Jack Stevens and into the back of the net, toning down his celebrations against his former employers. Reading’s tails were up and the crowd were enjoying their afternoon, Clinton Mola the next to try his luck but narrowly fire over the crossbar. Despite dominating possession, with the midfield trio particularly impressive, Reading were failing to carve the visitors open and Garry Monk’s men were semi-threatening on a few occasions.

The closest they came was when Lyle Taylor clipped a cross up to the back post, with two Cambridge players lingering, but the touchline came to the Royals’ aid. With almost the last kick of the half came the security Reading needed, and warranted. Intercepting a sloppy pass in his own half, Azeez beat Morrison for pace and slammed past Stevens when inside the box to put real daylight between the sides.

Cambridge, with nothing to lose at two goals down, came out fired up and were incredibly unlucky not the half the deficit early in the period as Periera was forced into a pair of stunning saves from close range to deny Elias Kachunga.

Jordan Cousins had a sight of goal too when Pereira collided with the attackers and could only clear to the edge of the box, but Wing threw his body in front of the ball to repel any chance of a goal. In a flash, the Royals hit them with a sucker punch and took the game away from Cambridge, Wing smashing the ball past substitute keeper Will Mannion from inside the box.

Met with jeers and cries of ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ from the near 1,000 travelling fans, the wind was taken out of Cambridge sails and Reading looked to kill any chance of a nervy ending. Substitute Ehibhatiomhan put the cherry on top of the icing on the cake, thundering home a fourth in the final 10 minutes to add some gloss.

Now with nearly a whole fortnight off, Northampton Town await on Good Friday as the Royals enter the final eight fixtures of the campaign.