Reading’s Under-23s earned a first win of their Premier League 2 season thanks to a wonder-strike by 17-year-old midfielder Jordan Holsgrove in the final throes of a 2-1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Royals went to the Amex on Friday after suffering back-to-back defeats in the first two games – a 4-0 reverse against Southampton at St Mary’s, followed by a 5-3 defeat at Hogwood at the hands of visiting Blackburn.
Parity lasted less than 15 minutes under the floodlights. U23 debutant Andre Burley fed an early ball to Ramarni Medford-Smith, who in turn sprayed an early ball into the feet of Ben House, who was making his first start of the campaign. Josh Barrett took over possession, charged into the area, and drilled low and hard beyond the outstretched arms of former Royals teammate Billy Collings to put Reading on their way.
Looking for a reply, Max Sanders received on the left for Albion and embarked on a jinking solo run – his shot from the edge of the D was too close to George Legg, who showed safe hands.
Burley came close to doubling the lead, attacking an inswinging corner by Tyler Frost and meeting it with a prodded volley – the goalkeeper was well-placed to take. At the other end, William Collar overlapped from right-back and hung up a ball which Jordan Davies couldn’t direct on target – his header was past the far post.
A sharp combination by Brighton duo Steven Alzate and Daniel Mandriou – the former dropped deep to receive an early ball, laid in the latter… but a pincer move by defender Burley and Tom Holmes forced Mandriou to take his shot earlier, making Legg’s task a bit easier between the sticks.
But ten minutes after the restart, the scores were level again as Collar cut onto his left foot and swung in a delivery – Alzate just needed to make the faintest of touches to squeeze the ball between Legg and his near post.
Danny Loader could have been the match-winner when he looked to attack an early cross by sub Teddy Howe – Joshua Kerr made a hash of his clearance, but recovered in time to make things difficult for Loader to squeeze in from an acute angle.
Aaron Connolly had a shot from the edge of the box deflected off the shins of Gabriel Osho and a matter of inches past the Reading post. At the other end, Loader struck a first-time effort on the spin as Barrett was tackled outside the area, forcing Collings into an acrobatic save… both teams were seeking a winning goal.
And it was Holsgrove who delivered the killer blow, with just seconds remaining on the clock. The Albion defence switched off for a split second after Reading won a free-kick in their opponents’ half – Ryan East played into the path of the Scottish U19 international, who walloped into the top corner from 25 yards with the game’s last action!
Full-time: Brighton & Hove Albion U23 1-2 Reading U23
Brighton & Hove Albion U23: Collings, Collar, Cox, Hutchinson, Hall, Kerr, Bjordal (Connolly HT), Sanders (Ajiboye 75), Alzate, Mandriou, Davies (Tilley 38).
Unused subs: McGill, Moore.
Reading U23: Legg, Holmes, Medford-Smith, Burley, Osho, East, Frost (Howe 71), Holsgrove, Barrett, Loader, House (Olusanya 76).
Unused subs: Driscoll, Shokunbi, Rollinson.