READING 4-0 WALSALLWalsall’s hopes of reaching the FA Cup fifth round for the first time in 13 years were ended after a comprehensive defeat at Reading.
Two goals in four first-half minutes from Hal Robson-Kanu and Watford loanee Matej Vydra put the Championship side in control.
Danny Williams' 75th-minute strike made it 3-0 and Vydra added a late fourth to round off a resounding Royals win.
Walsall head coach Sean O’Driscoll kept faith with the same side that drew 1-1 with Blackpool in League One last weekend.
The Saddlers entered this fourth-round tie searching for a fourth Championship scalp of the season.
Nottingham Forest and Brighton were accounted for in the League Cup, while Brentford were defeated in round three of the FA Cup.
Walsall threatened first inside three minutes, when Anthony Forde's right-footed drive was blocked by Jordan Obita.
Brian McDermott's Reading responded immediately with Aaron Tshibola unleashing a dipping 25-yard volley which brushed the roof of the net.
The Saddlers came within inches of taking the lead after 11 minutes.
Tom Bradshaw chased Romaine Sawyers' excellent long pass and cut inside home defender Jake Cooper onto his right foot.
The striker stuck a low shot towards the bottom corner which deflected off Cooper’s shins and squirmed agonisingly wide of the far post.
Although chances were in short supply, the visitors were acquitting themselves well against their higher-league opponents.
But slightly against the run of play, Reading made the breakthrough eight minutes before the break.
Robson-Kanu controlled Chris Gunter's quick throw on his chest, rolled Andy Taylor and then drove a powerful strike into the roof of the net.
And Walsall’s hopes of cup progression suffered a hammer-blow three minutes later.
A slick Reading move saw Williams intelligently slip in the unmarked Stephen Quinn, who crossed low for Vydra to tap home.
And Brian McDermott’s Royals should really have increased their advantage in first-half injury time.
Robson-Kanu dispossessed Taylor and released Vydra in behind the Walsall defence but the on-loan striker dragged his effort well wide.
HALF-TIME: READING 2-0 WALSALL
The Saddlers were right up against it but went mightily close to reducing the arrears on 54 minutes.
Sawyers received possession from deep and played a neat one-two with Mantom before firing a blistering 25-yard strike against the top of the bar.
It was desperately unfortunate.
Shortly after, Taylor’s bending, long-range set-piece sailed harmlessly wide.
On 61 minutes it was Reading’s turn to rattle the woodwork, when Oliver Norwood curled a 25-yard free-kick against the bar.
Visiting custodian Neil Etheridge was then called into action as he parried Jordan Obita’s well-struck left-footed drive.
With Walsall’s hopes of claiming another second-tier scalp fading, O’Driscoll shuffled his pack with Jordan Cook replacing Adam Chambers.
The substitute was quickly involved as he guided a flicked header onto the roof of the net from Forde’s delivery.
But the Saddlers’ hopes of a comeback were all but ended as Reading increased their advantage 15 minutes from time.
Williams capitalised on a defensive mix-up to sprint clear before calmly slotting through Etheridge’s legs.
To make matters worse, Etheridge was caught by Taylor as the goal was scored and had to be stretchered off and replaced by Craig MacGillivray.
Walsall tried in vain to force a way back into the tie, with Bradshaw hooking just over the bar from Forde’s right-wing corner.
The relentless Royals had the ball in the net again with two minutes left, but Vydra’s tap-in from Williams’ goalbound shot was flagged offside.
But Reading weren’t to be denied just seconds later, as Vydra planted a near-post header into the corner from Gunter’s pinpoint cross.
The goal-hungry hosts continued to press, with Williams and Norwood each testing MacGillivray in added time, but 4-0 was how it finished.
FULL-TIME: READING 4-0 WALSALL
Team: Etheridge (MacGillivray 78'), Demetriou, Downing, O’Connor, Taylor, Chambers (Cook 64'), Mantom, Forde, Henry, Sawyers, Bradshaw.
Subs not used: Lalkovic, Preston, Flanagan, Morris, Kinsella.
Attendance: 13,367 (1,636 Walsall supporters).