Colchester United’s impressive run in this season’s FA Youth Cup was ended after Reading produced a slick second-half display to win 4-1 and progress to a quarter-final tie with Arsenal.

Colchester's under-18 side, who were hoping to book a quarter-final home date with Arsenal with a victory, had beaten Cheshunt, Bishop’s Stortford, Crewe Alexandra and MK Dons to book their meeting with the Royals.

It had been the U’s best run in the competition in 13 years but Reading made the more assured side in the opening stages at a bitterly cold Weston Homes Community Stadium and looked dangerous from the off.

Colchester survived a fifth-minute penalty scare when England under-17 World Cup winner Danny Loader went down under goalkeeper Harry Seaden’s challenge in the area and the referee waved away the visitors’ claims.

Reading’s Jordan Holsgrove then lashed a shot into the side netting from a tight angle after finding space on the U’s left, while seconds later Seaden was called into action to push away Samuel Faniyan’s excellent fierce effort at full stretch as the visitors looked menacing.

But Colchester slowly warmed to the task and registered their first meaningful effort on goal in the ninth minute when Rob Howard’s 25-yard half volley was pushed away by keeper Adam Desbois for a corner.

Reading went close again when Loader escaped down the U’s right and delivered an attempted cross which bounced off the top of the crossbar before sailing away for a goal-kick.

But Colchester took a 26th minute lead in spectacular fashion when Callum Anderson collected the ball from George Keys and let fly with a superb first-time strike from 20 yards that left keeper Desbois with no chance.

Reading responded well to the setback though and equalised, 11 minutes later.

Loader controlled Imari Samuels’ deep cross well at the far post before squeezing a low shot past keeper Seaden to make it 1-1.

Faniyan headed Joe Wilson’s powerful cross over from close range at the far post soon after and Jack Nolan fired inches wide of the far post after Holsgrove had latched onto Desbois’s good throw and picked out his run.

It looked as though the sides would go in level at the break but Reading grabbed the lead for the first time in the tie, just before half-time.

Loader capitalised on Colchester’s hesitancy on the halfway line following Akinwale Odimayo’s long clearance and raced away to finish clinically past Seaden and score his second of the game.

Desbois was twice called into action in the opening minutes of the second half, tipping Sims’ cross onto the crossbar and away for a corner before then parrying away Dean Ager’s excellent strike, as Colchester looked for a route back into the tie.

But Reading’s Jordan Holsgrove rattled the U’s bar with a delightful free-kick just before the hour mark and then forced keeper Seaden to push away his low shot seconds later, as the visitors threatened a third.

Seaden twice denied Faniyan in the space of a few minutes and then made a fine tip-over save to foil Nolan but the Royals finally extended their lead with 15 minutes remaining when Nolan drove low through a crowded area and in.

And the tie was over as a contest barely a minute later when Loader polished off a slick Reading move to complete his hat-trick, following Wilson’s pass.

Seaden pushed away Wilson’s effort and also denied Coleman late on, as the U's bowed out.