15:30 7th October 2013
Taylor brace and Ugwu strike not enough
Reading U21s 3 (Taylor 5, 27, Ugwu 8)
West Brom U21s 4 (Vydra 17, Roofe 22, Ward 80, Jones 88)
Reading's under-21s were narrowly defeated by West Bromwich Albion in a 4-3 thriller at Hogwood Park on Monday afternoon.
In a game where Nick Blackman and Hope Akpan each got an important 90 minutes under their belts, Jake Taylor scored twice and Gozie Ugwu once in a pulsating encounter at the Royals' training ground.
Martin Kuhl's men made a blistering start to the match, and almost took the lead when Aaron Tshibola weaved around two or three defenders to break through on goal - but he agonisingly smashed his effort against the frame of the goal.
Moments later, though, Reading did take the lead. Taylor, fresh from his first team cameo at Burnley, did well to get on the end of a floating cross from the right and nod home past Baggies goalkeeper Jack Rose.
And just three minutes after that, it was 2-0. Gozie Ugwu scored his fifth goal of the season when he advanced towards goal and arrowed a shot right into the bottom left corner of the net.
But Albion pulled one back nine minutes later. From Royals goalkeeper Stuart Moore's goal kick, Matej Vydra - who attracted interest from top Premier League clubs this summer - took full advantage and coolly slotted home into the corner of the goal.
It seemed as though every on target attempt was finding the back of the net in this half, and that happened once again on 22 minutes. West Brom winger Morgan Ferrier picked out Kemar Roofe, who headed past Moore to equalise.
But the pendulum swung Reading's way again five minutes later. Some superb work from Ugwu earned the Royals a free kick in a dangerous position, and up stepped Taylor who curled home in off the post.
Blackman almost scored a fantastic solo goal just before half time, when he jinked past two men before curling a shot wide to the relief of substitute 'keeper Alex Palmer - who replaced the injured Rose after he collided with the post as Taylor's second goal flew in.
The second half wasn't as frenetic as the first in terms of goals, but chances were still aplenty. Ugwu perhaps should have made it four when he fired a volley over the bar from close range, before Baggies striker Alex Jones followed up a great save from Moore but skied high and wide.
Jones then headed over for the visitors and substitute striker Joe Ward tested Moore from distance, before Lawson D'Ath had a shot well blocked.
And with ten minutes to go, West Brom levelled again. The Royals failed to clear their lines and it was Ward who punished the hosts, smashing in from close range.
With both sides trying to find a winner, caution was thrown to the wind. Taylor had a chance go over the bar and D'Ath had a superb effort tipped around the post, but it was to be our visitors who would snatch it.
The referee awarded West Brom a questionable penalty after an altercation in the box from a corner, and Alex Jones converted the spot kick to make it 4-3 to the Baggies.
A hard defeat to take for Martin Kuhl's men despite a good performance in an entertaining game. Stoke City now lie in wait for our under-21s, with the Royals travelling to Staffordshire next Friday.
Reading side: Moore; Stacey,Griffin, Keown, Sweeney; Tshibola, J.Taylor, Akpan (C), D'Ath; Ugwu, Blackman.
Subs not used: Ward, Hyam, McClennan, Kuhl, Murombedzi.
WBA squad: Rose (Palmer 35); Francis, Garmston, Gayle, Atkinson, O'Sullivan, Roofe, Thorne, Jones, Vydra (Ward 60), Ferrier.
Subs: Birch, Howkins, Nabi.