Ian Evatt had said Wanderers went into battle with “water pistols rather than an armada” at Stevenage but the goals came flooding in against Reading.

The Whites entered the game six points behind second-place Derby following a couple of tough away trips either side of the international break, albeit with a game in hand.

Aaron Collins’ hat trick set Bolton on their way to victory in front of more than 25,000 supporters in attendance for Community Day. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson also bagged a brace to send the crowd home happy.

Evatt made two changes from the side that drew at Stevenage, with Jack Iredale and Bodvarsson replacing Will Forrester and Cameron Jerome.

Forrester had played the full 90 minutes at the Lamex Stadium – his first appearance since January following a hamstring injury.

Nathan Baxter and Dion Charles both remained sidelined – the latter had been given an outside chance of being involved against the Royals.

Gethin Jones was again absent from the squad due to a bruised hip picked up on international duty with Australia, while Randell Williams returned to the bench after recovering from a minor knock that kept him out against Stevenage.

Meanwhile, Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan came into the Reading side for Ben Elliott following his winner against Northampton several days prior.

The opening stages were cagey. Joel Pereira’s kick fell to Bodvarsson 35 yards out but he couldn’t quite get a shot away as the Reading goalkeeper scrambled back to his goal.

Ehibhatiomhan then got into a dangerous position on the left after robbing Ricardo Santos of possession but his cross was cut out by Joel Coleman.

The opener came after 11 minutes and it was a moment of real quality from Collins. The Reading defence backed off and he made them pay, arrowing a superb strike into the top corner from outside the penalty area that gave Pereira absolutely no chance.

The goal settled any early nerves and Wanderers found their groove, putting the Reading backline under waves of pressure in search of a second goal.

Collins had a header saved from a tight angle after he was left free at the far post from Josh Sheehan’s corner.

Pereira then spilled Iredale’s cross under pressure from Bodvarsson, but Maghoma couldn’t quite take advantage.

Collins thought he had added a second after pouncing on Tyler Bindon’s weak backpass and slotting past the goalkeeper, but the Reading defender got back to make a vital clearance on the line.

Sheehan also went close moments later but Pereira got a strong hand to his low drive, which seemed destined for the bottom corner.

Eoin Toal had a header saved from point-blank range after rising highest at a corner, and it started to feel like Bolton might be made to pay for their missed chances.

That is exactly what happened five minutes before the break when Wing let fly from distance. His strike seemed to take a slight deflection and flew into the top corner despite Coleman’s best efforts.

There was a sense of déjà vu after the defeat in Berkshire earlier in the season when - Wanderers had let a lead slip and left empty-handed - but this time it didn’t take long to get back in front.

Collins was chopped down by Amadou Mbengue in the box and referee Ben Toner took a second before pointing to the spot.

The former Bristol Rovers man kept his cool to send Pereira the wrong way from 12 yards and double his tally for the afternoon.

Evatt’s men picked up where they left off early in the second half when Maghoma teed up Bodvarsson and the Icelander made no mistake.

Reading had a mountain to climb and Ruben Selles opted to make a double change, sending on Andy Yiadom and Jayden Wareham in place of Jeriel Dorsett and Ehibhatiomhan.

The pair made an immediate impact, with Yiadom tripped by Iredale right on the edge of the Bolton box. Wing went for goal from the resulting free kick but Coleman watched it all the way and made a smart stop.

The visitors continued to apply pressure in search of a way back into the contest. Wareham had the ball in the net but was denied by the offside flag after the Bolton goalkeeper had spilled an initial effort but then recovered well from close range.

Clinton Mola also stung Coleman’s palms with a thumping strike from outside the area just after the hour mark.

Now it was Evatt’s turn to make a double change, with Zac Ashworth and Kyle Dempsey joining the fray as Wanderers looked to wrestle back control. Forrester was also introduced off the bench minutes later.

Collins completed his hat trick 15 minutes from time with another moment of quality in front of goal, rifling past the helpless Pereira after a spot of pinball in the Reading box. It capped off a special afternoon for the 26-year-old, who is still getting used to life in the North West after his January switch.

He left the pitch moments later to a big reception from the Bolton faithful and was replaced by Jerome, with Aaron Morley also coming on to freshen things up in the middle of the pitch.

Wanderers weren’t content with four and Ashworth’s wicked cross somehow evaded everyone in the box.

Dempsey then had a big chance to add a fifth after racing onto George Thomason’s pass but couldn’t find a way past Pereira.

Reading got a second in injury time when Paul Mukairu slotted home from close range after the Whites had failed to clear their lines.

But Bodvarsson restored Wanderers’ three-goal cushion almost instantly with another instinctive finish from close range.

Dempsey had another decent opportunity with virtually the final kick of the game but sliced wide after finding a pocket of space.

The pressure is now firmly back on Derby as the Rams prepare to face leaders Portsmouth at Fratton Park.