An unchanged XI took to a freezing Madejski Stadium pitch, rumours of a departure for Orlando Sa didn't prevent the striker taking up a place on the bench while new signing George Evans was cup-tied having signed hours before kick-off.
Huddersfield led early after a hopeful long ball was made into a golden chance via Jake Cooper's aimless header, dropping nicely for Nahki Wells to cut-back for the on-rushing Jamie Paterson to bury at the near post. It was worrying how no Reading shirt reacted to the opportunity as quickly as the Town winger, who had opened the scoring in the first encounter.
It was 0-2 soon enough when the visitors' fast-paced attacking game caught the Royals napping. A cross from the left was sent onto the bar by Emyr Huws before Ali Al-Habsi denied the rebound, but as the ball was reloaded Tommy Smith found space to drive a daisy-cutter into the far corner via the post. Boos rang out as the hosts once again started worryingly slowly and were on the verge of being dumped out.
Paterson was denied a second soon after but the game was changed for good on 27 minutes as Matej Vydra turned Jonathan Hogg, the defensive midfielder hauling down Vydra 20 yards out. Blatantly a professional foul, this was a clear red card which referee Oliver Langford duly dished out, unlike his colleague at MK Dons on Saturday. After a long wait and a long run-up Lucas Piazon curled home a delightful free-kick and it was suddenly game on.
The Royals asserted good pressure in the latter stages of the first-half, Danny Williams sending one of many long-range efforts over the bar, but stuttered after Garath McCleary was removed with an injury concern.
Starting the second period with Hal Robson-Kanu heading against the bar was a good omen for the hosts, although there was a degree of worry when Huddersfield won a corner on 57 minutes. Taken short, it was quickly cleared to John with Robson-Kanu and Vydra rushing to assist in a marvellous opportunity. Opting for the Welshman, only a cracking save by Joe Murphy denied HRK a goal and yet the rebound fell kindly for Vydra to turn home acrobatically.
While it took such little time for Reading to be undone earlier in the game, it was a case of blink and you'll miss the comeback. Just minutes after equalising, Czech forward Vydra had his second. Plenty of space and movement opened up a chance for Robson-Kanu, which was blocked and diverted to John for a ball to be whipped in along the six-yard line that Vydra tapped home under pressure.
Taking their eye of the ball has often been a fair accusation of this Reading team, and indeed once more Town reminded us of their threat when Wells broke down the left in a smart move but lobbed his shot onto the bar. It was a let-off that the home team embraced with open arms, Vydra having a hat-trick chance cleared off the line before making no mistake when released by Oliver Norwood to seal the win.
There was still time, in fact, for 5-2. Spaniard Alex Fernandez was brought on to add numbers in the midfield and the Espanyol loanee made use of acres of green to stroll forward and bury a shot from distance in stoppage time. A nice way to round off the tie, the freezing fans were sent home happy after an opening that suggested one of the most frustrating nights of the season.
A lot of the talk after this game will be dominated by 'papering over the cracks'. That argument has relevance, Reading were dreadful for the first 25 minutes and may well have gone on to lose against 11 men. However, with a genuine amount of talent and under a new manager this win required a great deal of mental strength and clinicality that have been absent for months, if not years.
The team performance was professional and made a good Huddersfield look mediocre as soon as the heat was turned up. You can only play who's in front of you and Town were calmly dispatched by delightful individual skill through Piazon's free-kick, Vydra's finishing, and more. The pressure is now on the team to match this in a winning performance Saturday's tough league game against Sheffield Wednesday.