By Connor Armstrong at Meadow Park
Arsenal Under-23s were beaten by a pair of second-half strikes as they started their Premier League 2 campaign at Meadow Park on Friday night.
- Find out more about the academy
- Read up on the under-23s squad
- Go behind the scenes at youth team photocall day
Gedion Zelalem went closest to breaking the deadlock for the Gunners, when his corner clattered the crossbar.
The visitors went into the lead when Andy Rinomhota slammed home after Matt Macey could only parry a strike from Tariqe Fosu-Henry.
That lead was extended with 10 minutes remaining, when Harry Cardwell provided a deft finish to secure three points for the Royals.
SETTING THE SCENE
Steve Gatting named Zelalem, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Chris Willock in the starting XI for the first game of the new-look Premier League 2 season.
Macey started in goal, with Kristopher Da Graca and Ben Sheaf lining up in the heart of the defence.
Ismael Bennacer was handed a starting berth in midfield, where he was joined by Zelalem.
Reading boss Martin Kuhl named several players with experience of senior football with Jonathan Bond, Craig Tanner and Fosu-Henry all named in the starting line-up.
Arsenal got to work quickly, Zelalem curling an effort inches over the crossbar inside the opening eight minutes after being picked out by Reiss Nelson.
Reading threatened for the first time after 13 minutes, with Macey called into action to make a double save as the visitors looked to turn the ball home.
Zelalem put Reading hearts in mouths again soon after when his whipped corner almost caught out Bond and bounced behind off the crossbar.
Macey was on hand once more when Josh Barrett took aim from long range, before the Royals were prevented from opening the scoring by an offside flag after Craig Tanner had scrambled home.
The Gunners were put under some early pressure in the second period, with Andrija Novakovich just unable to turn home after a marauding run and cross from Jack Stacey.
Shane Griffin and Tosu-Henry combined before the former lifted a ball towards Barrett, but his powerful volley whistled over Macey’s crossbar.
Reading took the lead in the 70th minute, Rinomhota thumping the ball high into the net after Macey had parried Fosu-Henry’s initial effort.
Stephy Mavididi nearly pulled Arsenal level in stunning fashion, but his slaloming run concluded with Bond smothering the ball as the striker looked to round the Royals stopper.
The visitors added a second goal with 10 minutes remaining when substitute Cardwell took one touch before sending a backwards flick past Macey to wrap up the win for the Berkshire side.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.