Premier League 2
Reading 2 (Novakovich, Holsgrove) Arsenal 5 (Debuchy, Sanogo (3), Bramall)
Yaya Sanogo scored a hat-trick, with Mathieu Debuchy and Cohen Bramall also on target as an experienced Arsenal U23 team staged a stunning comeback to go from two goals down to beat their Reading counterparts 5-2 at Hogwood Park today.
Arsenal were disappointing in the early exchanges, with Reading establishing a two-goal lead by the 24th minute. However, the young Gunners managed to claw their way back into the game, with Debuchy reducing the deficit before Sanogo hit a 19-minute hat-trick, with Bramall also scoring in that period in a remarkable turnaround.
Coach Steve Gatting named an extremely strong team containing six members of the first-team squad, including Alex Iwobi, who made his first appearance at this level this season.
Carl Jenkinson, Debuchy, Rob Holding, Sanogo and Jeff Reine-Adelaide also started against a Reading team that went into the game bottom of the table.
Maitland Niles-Reine Adelaide
Subs: Nketiah (for Sanogo, 74), Sheaf (for Reine-Adelaide, 84)
Not used: Keto, Dasilva, Johnson.
Despite the strength of Arsenal’s starting line-up, it was Reading who commenced the game in the ascendancy and the hosts took the lead with just two minutes gone when Andrija Novakovich applied the finishing touch to a slick passing move.
Arsenal attempted to stage an instant response but Debuchy saw his overhead kick blocked.
The game started to open up a little thereafter, with Chris Willock causing problems for the Reading defence, but all the while Arsenal had to be wary of the threat posed by Novakovich, who saw much of the ball.
Sanogo, who had been rather isolated up until that point, then sent an acrobatic shot just over, but it was soon 2-0 to Reading, with Jordan Holsgrove’s deflected effort getting the better of Arsenal goalkeeper Ryan Huddart.
To their credit, Arsenal ended the half strongly and came close to reducing the deficit when Willock teed up Jenkinson.
Debuchy eventually did manage to make it 2-1 just before the break when he headed in from Reiss Nelson’s corner, with the Frenchman having now scored more times for Arsenal U23s than for the first-team.
Arsenal’s upward momentum continued into the second period, with Sanogo making it 2-2 shortly after the re-start after nodding in from Willock’s delivery.
Huddart had to be alert at the other end to make a fine stop to prevent Andrew Rinomhota from instantly restoring Reading’s advantage before Sanogo saw another attempt thwarted by Reading goalkeeper Luke Southwood.
Sanogo was unrelenting in his approach, however, and the Frenchman managed to make it 3-2 when he finished well from Cohen Bramall’s cutback.
Arsenal, by this point, were in complete control and proceeded to push forwards with regularity.
It was 4-2 when a bursting run forwards from Bramall culminated in his first goal for the club and then Sanogo made it 5-2 as he completed his hat-trick after good work from Reine-Adelaide.
Sanogo, who will doubtless be delighted with the impact he made, was then replaced by Eddie Nketiah for the closing stages of the game as Arsenal saw out the win.
What was on track to be a hugely frustration occasion for Arsenal U23s ultimately turned out to be very enjoyable, and it was especially beneficial for Sanogo, whose confidence will surely be boosted by his hat-trick.
Despite all the senior players on show, though, one of the younger individuals managed to stand out, with Bramall impressing with his rampaging runs forward from left-back.
The endeavour shown to come from behind will have pleased Gatting, who could field another strong team when Arsenal face Sunderland away in their next fixture later this month.