By Adam Clark
Reading exorcised the ghosts of their mid-October humbling by Arsenal by inflicting a 6-0 Hallowe'en mauling on Neil Banfield's Reserves at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday.
A clinical first-half hat-trick from Shane Long was matched after the break by the impressive James Henry as an inexperienced Gunners side were outmuscled, outrun and outclassed by a Royals side boasting seven players with Premiership experience.
Arsenal started brightly. Denilson provided some confident touches on only his second Reserve outing and Kieran Gibbs saw his opening effort held by Reading 'keeper Adam Federici.
The home side soon took control of the game however and on 13 minutes Leroy Lita converted a diving header only to see it disallowed for offside. The decision served to ignite Reading further and two minutes later Long broke the deadlock with a thunderous 18-yard drive that cannoned in off the post.
Arsenal had their best chance of the game on 19 minutes but Marc Elston somehow directed a header wide from six yards out. The diminutive striker had another chance soon after but having got between defenders Ulises De La Cruz and Sam Sodje, he miscontrolled and allowed the former to recover well.
On 32 minutes Stephen Hunt launched a pass towards the edge of the box and as both Poom and Long challenged for the ball it ricocheted between the two and fell kindly for the Irish striker to guide into the empty net.
With half time looming Lita had another ruled out but again it took just two minutes for Reading to avenge the decision. This time Long fed Lita from midfield before eating up the ground to convert his strike partner's cut-back.
Fading hopes of an Arsenal fightback were killed three minutes after the restart when Lita found time and space in the box to pick out the run of Henry, who fired a first time shot past the hapless Poom.
Chances for a consolation were few and far between for the visitors. Jay Simpson wasted the best of them, blazing over from six yards after a neat dummy from Elston.
With 15 minutes remaining Reading surpassed the four goals notched by Henry and Co when Thierry's English namesake out jumped Joe O'Cearuill to glance home No 5.
Reading were now running the clock down but Nacer Barazite, on for Denilson, took over Arsenal's midfield reins and quickly provided a looping ball for Elston. The striker's first touch was pure class but he shot wide of the post.
When Matthew Connolly went to ground in the box and hacked down Hayes with four minutes remaining, the referee had no choice but to award Reading the chance of a sixth. Henry duly obliged, confidently sending Poom the wrong way.
The tenacious Elston pulled one last save from Federci but Arsenal were spared further humiliation when Royals substitute Simon Church spurned a golden opportunity at the death.
Dogged defending pre-match!
Jay Simpson pushes forwards
Denilson slides in on Bikey
Mark Randall and John Oster clash
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- Traore 68
- Lokando 57
- Denilson 57
- Ogogo 57
- Hoyte 68
- Barazite 57