Reading capitulated in the final half hour to lose 4-0 at Charlton Athletic, making it 18 away league matches without a win.

Chuks Aneke, Tyreece Campbell, Alfie May and Miles Leaburn completed the rout, with Reading ironically starting both halves on top of their in-form rivals.

Making three changes from the 2-1 defeat at Leyton Orient, Michael Craig made his first league start for the club while Sam Smith returned to make his second debut.

More than 2,500 made the journey from Berkshire, many leaving with more than 20 minutes to go after seeing more of the same from the last 12 months.

In a sleepy first half, it was Reading who shaded the proceedings. David Button was forced into the first save, catching a cross from Corey Blackett-Taylor after Lewis Wing passed to the winger in midfield. However, the former Wycombe Wanderers man had the first shot for Reading shortly after, curling on target from the edge of the box after Femi Azeez’s cutback and forcing a corner.

Azeez had a shot saved himself not long after, linking up with Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan, but Ashley Maynard-Brewer was not stretched. Enjoying a busy start to the afternoon, Wing needed to do better on the half-hour mark as a dug-out cross fell to the midfielder inside the box. Unfortunately, he caught the ball too well on the volley, firing well over the crossbar. He curled another effort over the bar on the stroke of halftime after intercepting a Charlton pass on the edge of the box.

The second half began in the same vein, with Reading on top and forcing a succession of corners. Knibbs should have opened the scoring from one of Nesta Guinness-Walker’s corners, directing wide at the back post when it looked harder to miss. It was to mark the turning point as the hosts dominated the final 30 minutes and made the Royals pay. Tyler Bindon allowed a cross into the box from the left and Aneke was in the six-yard box to power home his first league goal of 2022. Ehibhatiomhan, by now paired with Southampton loanee Dom Ballard, came close on a couple of occasions but cut a largely frustrated figure.

Moments after the youngster put an effort into the arms of the keeper, the game was put to bed. Campbell, who had come off the bench, sent a rocket into Button’s top corner to double the advantage. Like deer in headlights, the young side were all over the place and May was on hand to make it three just five minutes later. Button made a terrific save from Miles Leaburn and Blackett-Taylor nearly grabbed himself one as the Royals were struggling to pick themselves off the canvas.

Now facing a string of matches in quick succession, Fleetwood Town visit Berkshire on Tuesday for the first-ever meeting between the sides.