A JON Dadi Bodvarsson brace and Chris Gunter gem saw Reading FC win 3-1 at basement boys Burton Albion to ease their relegation worries and end their goal drought.

Gunter's rare strike was sandwiched by Bodvarsson's double as Royals secured their first win in nine Championship matches to climb six points above the drop zone.

Lucas Atkins' penalty on 51 minutes cancelled out Bodvarsson's first-half opener, but Gunter made it 2-1 with a quality finish from outside the box before Bodvarsson made sure with a second of the night 11 minutes later to take his tally to eight for the season.

Questions have been asked about Jaap Stam's future, but his side delivered when it mattered in a must-win relegation clash and when the pressure was on.

Nigel Cough's Brewers may be bottom of the table, but they are in touch of safety and had won 2-1 at Madejski Stadium in late December.

This, though, was their fourth defeat on the trot and they would swap places with Reading in a flash.

Stam's men have been in woeful form, but they were too good for the hosts and matched them in all departments from the first minute to the last.

They also possessed a cutting edge in attack as the in-form Bodvarsson rose to the top of the club's scoring charts.

Stam made four changes to his side as Vito Mannone returned between the sticks, while Aston Villa loan signing Tommy Elphick was named on bench.

Joey van den Berg, Sone Aluko and Mo Barrow also returned while Pelle Clement and Garath McCleary dropped to the bench and Roy Beerens missed out altogether.

On a cold night and a boggy pitch, Stam went with two strikers again in Yann Kermorgant and Bodvarsson as he looked to take on the Brewers up front.

His tactics were spot on as Reading often played balls up quickly to the front pair rather than build from the back.

It took them a while to get going, but they went close in the 19th minute when Barrow set up Aluko who couldn't hit the target.

But a minute later the approach paid dividends when Bodvarsson broke the deadlock.

Barrow picked out Bacuna with a raking pass and the former Villa man whipped over an inviting ball which Bodvarsson confidently tucked past Stephen Bywater from close range.

It was Reading's first goal in 312 minutes of league action and first of 2018 - and it could not have come at a better time.

The action may have been scrappy, but Stam will not have cared a jot with his side in front.

And if anything the visitors may have added a second as Bacuna blazed over on the half-hour mark from a good position.

Then four minutes later Bodvarsson teed up Bacuna again, this time the ball sailing over the bar and into the car park behind.

But despite seeing less of the ball than their opposition, Royals went into the interval with the lead they had so desperately craved.

Yet within six minutes of the restart Burton were back on level terms.

Clough's side had threatened a minute earlier when Darren Bent's shot was blocked.

But their next attack saw Dave Edwards collide with Martin Samuelson, with referee Robert Jones pointing to the spot.

It was a soft penalty to concede as Samuelson was going nowhere and Liam Moore was well placed to clear any further danger.

But Akins showed nerves of steel by beating Mannone to draw Burton level and raise hopes of a double over the Royals.

Those hopes were snuffed out seven minutes later when Reading regained the lead through an unlikely source.

Gunter collected Bacuna's pass on the edge of the 'D' then shifted the ball from his right to his left before bending a shot around a host of bodies and into the corner, with Bywater nowhere near.

It was a collector's item from the 28-year-old Welshman who last found the net in a 2-0 home win over his old club Nottingham Forest on October 29, 2016.

Reading continued to show promise instead of sitting on a lead and were screaming for a penalty on the hour when Bodvarsson went down as he shaped to latch on to an Edwards cut-back, but Jones waved play on.

Then moments later Bywater pushed Barrow's effort onto the post after superb work from Bodvarsson and Kermorgant.

Brewers, though, failed to heed the warning and Reading grabbed a crucial third in the 68th minute with a goal straight out of Stam's coaching manual.

The move started with Mannone and went through Moore, Joey van den Berg and then Barrow who laid it on a plate for Bodvarsson to help himself from six yards.

It was no more than Reading deserved and they rarely looked like giving up their two-goal advantage.

Kyle McFadzean and former Royal Hope Akpan both fired wide of Mannone's goal, while the Italian stopper also pulled off a crucial save to thwart Luke Murphy.

But Reading had more than enough to see the game out and increase their lead over the bottom three to six points.

Reading, who remain 18th in the table, host 14th-placed Millwall this Saturday (3pm ko).

Burton: Bywater, Brayford, McFadzean, Turner, Murphy, Bent (Akpan 64), Akins, Flanagan, Naylor, Samuelsen (Sordell 77), Buxton (c). Subs not used: Allen, Dyer, Campbell, Sbarra, Boyce. Booked: Turner, 30, Buxton 39.

Reading: Mannone, Gunter (c), Moore, Ilori, Van den Berg (Evans 81), Edwards, Bacuna, Aluko (Elphick 57), Barrow, Kermorgant, Bodvarsson. Subs not used: Jaakkola, McCleary, Clement, Blackett, Smith. Booked: Moore 28, Bodvarsson 68, Ilori 70.

Referee: Robert Jones.

Attendance: 2,750.

Tonight's other Championship results: Birmingham 3 Sunderland 1; Hull 0 Leeds 0; Middlesbrough 0 Sheff Wed 0; Millwall 0 Derby 0; Nottm Forest 0 Preston 3; Sheff Utd 0 Aston Villa 1.