Reading progress into the knockout stages of the EFL Trophy with three wins from three after an entertaining 5-2 win over Arsenal Under-21s.

With seven goals, two missed penalties and a red card, the game at the SCL Stadium had it all.

Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan grabbed a brace while Harvey Knibbs, Caylan Vickers and Sam Smith all scored.

Both sides missed penalties and Mehmet Ali had Premier League regulars Reiss Nelson and Fabio Vieira at his disposal, while Ruben Selles made 11 changes from the side that threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.

Despite the wholesale changes, Reading’s insistence on playing high-pressing football has remained a constant this season. Inside just five minutes Reading won the ball on the edge of Arsenal’s box and Ehibhatiomhan was given the opportunity to find the net, only to curl his effort wide of the far post. Charles Sagoe had the first shot on target of the match, driving to the inside of the box but his tame effort was comfortably caught by Pereira.

Missing his earlier chance, Ehibhatiomhan did not have long to wait to open his account for the evening. Jayden Wareham, Vickers and Nesta Guinness-Walker linked up well on the right and fed the club’s top scorer into the box before he simply tapped past Ovie Ejeheri from close range. Nelson forced Pereira into the first difficult save of the night, tipping over the crossbar for a corner. Catching it at his back post, the former Manchester United stopper quickly sent Paul Mukariu on his way in a swift counter attack. Reaching deep into Arsenal territory, the ball was threaded through to Vickers, who coolly dispatched past the onrushing Ejeheri to double the hosts’ advantage.

Arsenal halved the deficit on the half-hour mark when Pereira brought Khayon Edwards down in the box. Vieira, who was sent off in the Premier League for Mikel Arteta’s first team on Saturday, made no mistake in converting the spot kick. Guinness-Walker’s deep cross found Wareham straight from the restart and the former Chelsea youngster tested the keeper was his header. Ehibhatiomhan made no mistake moments later when Ejeheri put his defenders under pressure on the edge of their own box, curling his second goal of the game to put daylight between the sides.

Thankfully for the near-2,000 in attendance, the second half proved just as entertaining a watch as the first had. Arsenal came out of the blocks quickest and managed to reduce the lead to just one as Nelson beat Guinness-Walker and Holmes before crossing for Edwards to tap into an open goal.

They nearly levelled the scores moments later as Vieira found himself on the edge of the Reading box, only for Michael Craig to nip in and win the ball well. Reading had the chance to ease the fears on the hour mark after Mukairu was fouled in the box, but Ehibhatiomhan saw his spot kick saved and chances of a hattrick go begging.

Ten minutes later the lead was doubled, however, as Ehibhatiomhan controlled neatly and sent Knibbs through on goal, smashing the ball past Ejeheri on the half-volley. In the riveting watch, Arsenal thought they had their third with 20 minutes to go as the ball nestled into the net, only for the offside flag to cut short any celebrations.

With 10 minutes to go they had a golden opportunity to make Reading sweat after Nelson was fouled in the box for a penalty of their own. Like Ehibhatiomhan earlier in the half, Vieira saw his spot-kick parried away from danger by the goalkeeper. Arsenal had to navigate stoppage time with 10 men after Ayden Heaven was sent off for a crunching tackle on Knibbs.

Handing out 12 minutes of stoppage time, Smith benefitted from Ejeheri's poor pass from the back as the ball found its way to the striker on route to the back of the net.

Following on from a 9-0 win over Exeter City and a 5-0 win over Swindon Town, Reading await the draw for the knockout stages later this month. Now heading into an international break, the Royals return to action in 10 days at Wycombe Wanderers.