By Max Jones at Meadow Park
Arsenal Under-18s beat Reading 1-0 in the third round of the FA Youth Cup at Meadow Park on Friday.
It was a well-deserved win for Frans de Kat's side, who ended their run of seven games without a victory.
Stephy Mavididi went closest in the first half, heading against the crossbar, but Daniel Crowley was on hand from the spot before Harry Cardwell missed a 90th-minute penalty as Arsenal saw out the win.
The young Gunners will now face Royston Town at home in the fourth round.
SETTING THE SCENE
Arsenal have not won the FA Youth Cup since 2009, and De Kat named such an experienced side for this season’s opener.
Ryan Huddart - who featured on Arsene Wenger’s bench against Anderlecht and Borussia Dortmund - started in goal with recent first-team debutant Stefan O’Connor at centre back.
Gedion Zelalem, who made his maiden Champions League appearance in the same game against Galatasaray, started in midfield while under-21 regulars Crowley and Chris Willock also came in.
The young Gunners were knocked out by Chelsea in the semi-finals last term and Friday night's clash offered a chance to reignite their season after failing to win in seven league games.
Having already had to come from behind to salvage a point in the sides’ league meeting this season, Arsenal would have wanted to stay tight at the back, and they got lucky when Tennai Watson and Noor Husin narrowly missed in the opening 10 minutes.
The young Gunners stood firm, though, and soon seized control of the game. First Crowley forced a good save out of Lewis Ward and then Mavididi rose highest to head the playmaker¹s cross onto the crossbar.
The striker climbed again minutes later but put his header over the crossbar after a blistering run by Chiori Jonhson from right back.
Zelalem was next, turning away from his man on the edge of the box and rifling a low strike just wide of the bottom corner, before Willock stung Ward’s palms with a powerful drive on the stroke of half-time.
The young Gunners started the second half with more cutting edge than the first. Crowley beat two defenders on the edge of the box and forced Ward into a low save.
Zelalem and Willock fired inches wide in quick succession but Arsenal soon found the breakthrough they deserved. George Dobson picked out Willock with an inch-perfect through-ball and the forward was felled inside the box.
Captain Crowley stepped up and drilled the spot-kick into the bottom corner for his ninth goal of the season.
Huddart then made a spectacular reaction save to deny Lewis Collins before Hammed Lawal hit the post and Cardwell missed a last-minute penalty as the Gunners secured their spot in the next round.
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