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Royals reach cup final!

PUBLISHED

18:38 15th March 2014

Under-21s come from behind to oust Gunners

Arsenal u21s 1 (Hayden 14 pen)
Reading u21s 3 (Tanner 38, 102, Kelly 107)
(after extra time) 

Martin Kuhl's under-21s stunned Arsenal as they came from behind against the Gunners to reach the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Cup Final at Boreham Wood this afternoon.

Following our under-18s' lead after Wednesday night's FA Youth Cup drama, the Royals - some of whom had played 120 minutes of exhausting cup football in that emotionally draining midweek quarter final against Liverpool - bounced back from an early penalty to run out 3-1 winners and create yet more history!

Isaac Hayden stroked Arsenal into a 14th minute lead after Austin Lipman was tripped by Jake Cooper inside the penalty area, but Reading responded before the break, Craig Tanner turning home Jack Stacey's cross.

Tanner hit the post and forced Arsenal keeper Macey into a great save towards the end of a second half that the Royals had dominated, but the tie went to extra-time.

This time, there was no late drama and no need for penalties. Tanner capitalised on a mistake at the back to stab Reading into a lead for the first time and Liam Kelly headed home Shane Griffin's cross to make it 3-1 and seal the Royals' passage into the cup final!

Reading will face either Manchester City or Burnley in the final, a two-legged affair which will be staged at Madejski Stadium and our opponents' first team stadium in due course. What a week for Reading Football Club's incredible Academy.

Arsenal: Macey, Bellering, Moore, Ajayi, O'Connor (Olsson 71), Hayden, Eisfeld, Kamara, Lipman, Toral (Siemann 71), Miyaichi (Iwobi 76). 
Subs: Iliev, Ormonde-Ottewill.  
Yellow: Hayden

Reading: Lincoln, Keown, Griffin, Sweeney, Cooper, Tshibola, Kuhl, Stacey, Fosu (Cardwell 65), Kelly (Murombedzi 114), Tanner (Long 116).
Subs: Moore, Hyam.
Yellow: Kuhl 




First half

Niall Keown had to clear a good Stefan O'Connor header in the opening stages, but Aaron Kuhl - having captained the under-18s to FA Youth Cup glory against Liverpool earlier in the week - got on the end of a Liam Kelly free kick to fire just wide at the other end.

Somewhat against the run of play, the Gunners took the lead from the penalty spot. Austin Lipman was brought down by Jake Cooper inside the Royals box Isaac Hayden made no mistake, slotting past Dan Lincoln in the Royals goal to hand the hosts a 1-0 lead.
 
Thomas Eisfeld came close to doubling the Gunners' advantage, but Reading were troubling the Arsenal defence themselves and deserved their equaliser before half time. 

Jack Stacey powered down the right and delivered a tantalising cross into the Arsenal box. Craig Tanner read it well and turned the ball past Macey from close range to level seven minutes before the break. 1-1!

Second half

Tariqe Fosu looped a cross over Macey but onto the roof of the Arsenal net early in the second period, then Tanner forced the Gunners stopper into a good save with his legs as Kuhl's side began to boss their hosts.

And the woodwork prevented Reading taking the lead when Tanner collected a one-two from Fosu and slammed the ball against the post from close range.

At the back, the Royals were defending well, blocking twice from Hayden whilst denying Lipman a late winner after good work from Eisfeld had created a half chance for the Gunners.

But Tanner came within a whisker of stealing an incredible victory only to see Macey fly full stretch to push our striker's injury time effort wide.

Extra time

Our under-18s had superbly fought their way past Liverpool after four goals in extra time had taken the FA Youth Cup quarter-final to penalties, but the under-21s were not prepared to entertain such drama.

Tanner fired the Royals into the lead just before the break in the additional half an hour, the striker pouncing on some hesitation at the back from Arsenal to stab Reading into a 2-1 lead.

And then the prospect of penalties was put completely to bed when Liam Kelly headed home a third, nodding Shane Griffin's deep cross over the line to take Reading into the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Cup Final!!

The Royals will face either Manchester City or Burnley in the final, a two-legged affair which will be staged at Madejski Stadium and our opponents' first team stadium in due course. More details about our opponents and the final will be announced when they become available.

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