Carew sets Villa Park alight
The fiery Norwegian was able to turn Villa's poetic football into an opening goal as he flicked Ashley Young's 22nd minute free-kick past Marcus Hahnemann.
That set the game alight and Villa dominated the remainder of the first half. However, Dave Kitson did have a half chance three minutes before the break but he slid the ball well wide of Carson's goal.
The Claret and Blue came out for the second half with a burning desire to extend their lead and fire themselves into the big league top six. It wasn't long before their passion was rewarded as towering defender Martin Laursen again capitalised on a great set piece delivery to power home.
Villa have scored from a dead ball situation in their last four games and Laursen is almost prolific.
The big Dane's goal resulted in the Holte End chanting his name at every corner and the fans almost willed the ball into the net each time.
Reading could not cope with Villa's aerial prowess and Laursen almost scored again moments later but Hahnemann stopped the defender's header on the goal line.
O'Neill's men continued to pose the Royals a riddle and it was one they couldn't solve. They did come back into the game for a brief spell with Carson saving well from Kitson's header. But soon after the vistors were on the back foot again as Carew turned well and struck a siering drive which Hahneman did well to tip over. Chants of "Carew's on fire" continued to echo around the ground.
The striker was not to be denied his second though, as Agbonlahor ran clear and slid the ball back, the laureate in chief finished with ease.
Game over, if it wasn't already.
The Royals, who incidentally have the worst defensive away record in the league, did manage to bag a goal near the end. James Harper went through on Carson and slid the ball into the net with the keeper looking like he was ready to take off his gloves and start celebrations early. It was a deserved consolation but that was all Coppell's side warranted.
It's back to the drawing board for the Reading manager as he tries to find how to end his team's winless run away from home. Maybe the late Robert Burns would have a few words of wisdom for what is a low on confidence squad.
For Martin O'Neill, it's a third consecutive victory and a 100% record in the New Year. The Northern Irishman will reflect on a job well done when looking back on today's game, possibly with a dram of whiskey in one hand and Martin Laursen's new contract in the other.