The hosts fielded Garath McCleary, Sone Aluko and Danny Loader at the Madejski Stadium. 

Nathan Wood was involved for Boro, while captain O’Neill wore number 8, relinquishing his usual striking slot for a more withdrawn midfield role.

Sol Brynn was the busier of the goalkeepers in a keenly contested first half, though after making the first save of the contest when tipping over a curling effort from the edge of the box, was not tested beyond a couple of routine stops before the break.

The game would come to life in the early stages of the second half. 

Loader swept a deflected effort narrowly wide, and the corner saw the Royals go close again with a looping header cleared off the line by Boro. 

Despite the pressure, it was the visitors who would take the lead moments later.

The ball was punted down field, Rumarn Burrell nodded beyond opposition goalkeeper Jokull Andersson and only a sliding interception prevented a tap-in.

Boro made the resulting corner count though as captain O’Neill glanced in a header - Burrell on hand at the back post to ensure it found the back of the net.

Reading pushed for an equaliser, which created opportunities for the pace of Boro’s forward line. 

A swift counter saw Alberto Balde draw a save from close quarters before Burrell headed off target. 

Joe Gibson was then sent racing away but fired straight at Andersson. Stephen Wearne stung the fingers of the Royals stopper as Boro continued to threaten.

The hosts remained dangerous, though, Aluko forcing Brynn into a save with an outstretched leg, before opposing captain East bent one beyond the Boro keeper but just outside of the post.

Into the final five minutes, and Brynn produced an outstanding stop to deny McCleary, who had beaten the offside trap despite the protests of the Boro defenders. The midfielder prodded goalwards but Brynn got enough on it to divert the shot away from danger.

A fourth straight win for Boro’s U23s and - pleasingly for lead coach Graeme Lee - a first clean sheet on the road this campaign.

Reading: Andersson, Elva-Fountaine (Watson), Medford-Smith, Nditi, Beeden, East, Coleman (Osorio), McCleary, Werick (Azeez), Loader, Aluko. Unused subs: Driscoll, McGiff

Boro: Brynn, Dodds, Hood, Wood, Robinson, Wearne, O’Neill, Gibson, Folarin (Green), Burrell, Balde. Unused subs: Flatters, Stephenson, Nelson, Cornet