Reading booked their place in the third round of the EFL Cup after 4-2 win over MK Dons on spot-kicks. Jordan Obita's winning penalty sent Reading through, after the game had ended 2-2 after 120 minutes.
After falling a goal behind to a Dean Bowditch penalty, Callum Harriott's first goal for the club was a fine strike from range to level the scores, before he slottied the Royals into the lead after a brilliant individual run in extra time. A 118th minute goal from MK Dons took the game to penalties, but Reading held their nerve, with Obita firing home the winning spot-kick
Royals boss Jaap Stam named three debutants in his side that lined up against the Dons. Academy graduate Liam Kelly came in to make his first start along with summer window arrivals Liam Moore and Danzell Gravenberch, while Stephen Quinn captained the side having only returned from injury in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Brighton.
The game started with the Royals on the front foot, and it was Harriott who had the first effort on target of the match. The winger cut inside onto his left foot, away from the challenge of Ben Tilney before firing a low shot at Lee Nicholls in the Milton Keynes goal.
Bowditch registered the visitors’ first effort after 18 minutes when his pot-shot from outside the Reading box was comfortably saved by Anssi Jaakkola.
With Roy Beerens replacing the injured Deniss Rakels after 20 minutes, Joseph Mendes moved to a more central role in the forward line for Stam’s side.
Harriott was looking a constant menace for the Milton Keynes defence, and forced a sharp save from Nicholls five minutes later after some fine footwork on the right flank. The wide-man dodged past his marker before unleashing a fierce drive which was well tipped over by the keeper.
After 34 minutes however the Dons had the lead - totally against the run of play. Kabongo Tshimanga raced through on goal for the visitors, and was adjudged to have been fouled by Royals keeper Jaakkola who slid out challenging for the ball, with the referee pointing to the spot. Bowditch stepped up to take the kick, making no mistake as he fired his penalty in the bottom left-hand corner.
As the clock ticked towards half time, Mendes was the next to force a save from the ever-busy Nicholls as Reading went in search for an equaliser. The forward’s looping header from a Kelly corner had to be palmed over the crossbar as it looked to be falling into the Milton Keynes net.
Half-time: Reading 0-1 MK Dons
Reading began the second period as the finished the first, penning MK Dons in their own half as they continued to push for an equaliser. Second half substitute George Evans nearly unlocked the opponents’ defence when his curling free kick was scrambled clear with a number of Royals player queuing up at the far post to finish.
Minutes later and Evans stood over another free-kick in an almost identical position. The midfielder provided another sumptuous delivery which was partially dealt with by a flapping Nicholls under a strong challenge from Moore.
The MK Dons defence was beginning to show signs of buckling under the intense Reading pressure, with Obita’s whipped cross desperately cleared out as far as Tennai Watson... the young right-back drilled a dipping effort goalwards and the opposition stopper did well just to parry the effort away from the frame.
But, on the 69th minute, the Royals finally had their equaliser - and it came through the ever-dangerous Harriott. The ball was laid to him by Mendes, and his left-footed shot was top-corner-bound as soon as it left his boot from 20 yards out.
A superb goal-line clearance from Scott Wootton denied Mendes his frost goal in blue and white after the striker rose above Nicholls and seemed to have an open goal beckoning. The defender threw his body in the way to deny the Reading man.
As the clock ticked into the 90th minute, Reading almost had a winner. A lofted ball forward from Obita was well knocked down by Mendes into the path of Beerens. The Dutchman drove on with the ball but his shot was saved athletically by Nicholls.
Seconds later Beerens had another opportunity as Reading strung a number of passes together to carve open the Milton Keynes back line. The wingers effort was well charged down however and bounced through tamely to the Dons keeper.
The visitors managed to cling on to take the game to extra time despite several late efforts from Reading, including a close range chance Mendes which he could only fire over the crossbar.
End of 90 minutes: Reading 1-1 MK Dons
It was MK Dons who started extra time the stronger and were close to re-taking the lead when they hit the woodwork not once but twice.
First a low strike from Ben Reeves hit the post, before the ball bounced out to Ed Upson who’s drive from range clattered off the crossbar. Jaakkola did well to deal with the bouncing ball, clawing it to safety - away from the onrushing opposing forwards.
Cooper who went down through injury, battled on and moved upfront to utilise his height despite a lack of maneuverability.
As the game moved into the second period of extra time it was clear bothe sides were tiring. Reeves again was causing the Reading defence problems when he curled a shot goalwards, but it was well kept out by Jaakkola diving to his right.
With the game being played at slow tempo, owing to the exertions that both sides had put in, it seemed the game would end 1-1 - but there were to be more twists in the tie when Harriott struck again. The winger jinked through the defence leaving a number of Dons players in his wake, before skimming his shot past Nicholls, off the inside of the post and in.
As Reading looked to hold on MK Dons threw players forward and from a late corner Milton Keynes managed to drag themselves level again. A dinked ball over the top found Tshimanga whose first effort was saved brilliantly with the rebound falling kindly to the striker, who made no mistake in front of an open goal.
With neither side able to find a winner the game went to penalties.
Full-time, after extra-time: Reading 2-2 MK Dons
Ben Reeves fired his penalty against the crossbar and Jaakkola then denied Carruthers; Harriott had a chance to seal it by Nicholls guessed correctly to divert away. But Obita stepped up to hammer home the winning spot kick and book Reading a place in the third-round draw on Wednesday evening.
Danny Williams - scored
George Evans - scored
Stephen Quinn - scored
Callum Harriott - saved
Jordan Obita - scored
MK Dons penalties
Upson - scored
Reeves - missed
Carruthers - missed
GC Williams - scored
Reading win 4-2 on penalties
Reading: Jaakkola, Watson, Obita, Moore, Cooper, Gravenberch (Williams 76), Kelly (Evans 53) , Quinn (c), Harriott, Rakels (Beerens 20), Mendes.
Unused subs: Bond, Gunter, Kermorgant.
Scorers: Harriott (69, 112).
Yellow: Jaakkola, Quinn, Williams.
MK Dons: Nicholls, Wootton, Upson, Bowditch (Carruthers 63), GB. Williams, Rasulo, Jackson (Reeves HT), Downing, Tilney, Tshimanga, Thomas-Asante (GC. Williams 71).
Unused subs: Brittain, Furlong, Burns, Osei-Bionsu .
Scorers: Bowditch (34) Tshimanga (118)
Yellow: Bowditch, Upson.
Referee: Mr C. Breakspear